Didst I fly too close to the flame? Did I sear off my wings and tumble to this providence of flesh and sin?
“Hear me now o Heaven!” I cried out, “must I die with the blood of my veins?”
But reprieve was delivered from upon high; “be a good servant, but not for thy sake.”
Yet a servant is nothing more than a slave; and I’m a slave by the Grace of heaven.
I was no more free than Mr. Shitz was free from impending death. “What happens when I die?” he asked.
“I am no more an expert on death than you are on life.”
“Is that the meaning of your visit Jim Grey? To give me one more shot at life?”
But how could I deliver something that I don’t possess?
Now enough about me….
The helicopter landed on the estate lawn. Archibald extended his hand to help Ms. Shitz deboard the craft. “How delightful it is to see you again!” he told her as they strolled across the grass and into the foreroom.
“Tell me, Archie,” Darla said, “how bad is it?”
“Your father is fine right now,” he replied, “but in time, his health will deteriorate. He will lose all control of his faculties. Piss and shit will flow out of him continuously before his bowels fall out of his asshole at the moment of death. I can’t think of a worse way to go. He would be better off ending it now rather than remain cognizant as his dignity melts away.”
“How horrible!” Darla bawled as she buried her head into Archibald’s chest.
“Yes,” he said as he wrapped his arms around her, “but you mustn’t say anything about it when you see him. He’s still processing his ass cancer diagnosis.”
“I understand,” she said while wiping away tears. “He’s always been a stubborn man. This will take time.”
“Of course,” Archibald replied as he offered her a brandy. “How was your stay in France?”
“Absolute dogshit!” Darla exclaimed. “They’re a bunch of chain-smoking, wino bastards! And the world thinks the US is racist?! Try spending 15 minutes at a Parisian bus stop! Jesus fucking Christ!”
I wandered in through the kitchen door bearing a gift. “A rose for you,” I offered Ms. Darla Shitz, “I’m Jim Grey. Welcome home.”
Nothing across all heavens, from the seas of Aquila to the moons of Indus, prepared me for the sight I saw; a woman, whose beauty rivaled that of Artemis.
“This is our new gardener, Ms. Shitz,” Archibald said. “He’s an acquaintance of your father.”
“Thank you, Mr. Grey,” Ms. Shitz spoke as she placed her hand into mine, “it’s a pleasure to meet you. Now, please excuse me. I must be meeting with my father.”
“Of course,” I said. I watched her gracefully gather herself as though there wasn’t a storm raging inside of her.
There too was a quiet storm gathering within me. What was it about Darla Shitz that promoted such passion?
I’m honestly embarrassed to admit that I bought this book.
I haven’t finished reading it. So maybe there’s some useful information in there somewhere. But I find self-help books to a pimple on the ass of the literary world.
I’m sure the author thinks that this is some philosophical commentary and not self-help. But really it’s just some bourgeois armchair philosophizing, which is how stoicism often comes across to me.
While I don’t consider myself a leftist (all political and religious ideologies require a healthy dose of skepticism) I do agree that there is a large portion of our lives that we have no control over. Even our preferences are largely predetermined by external circumstances. Free will is often recognizing this which then leads to angst, anxiety, and even suffering.
Following this line of reasoning, one might conclude that stoicism would help alleviate that pain. And it actually might to a certain degree. My primary beef with stoicism, and it’s current usage in the zeitgeist and world of self-help, is that it could actually contribute to one’s own delusion by masking real and justified emotional responses to very REAL problems.
It’s kinda akin to Jordan Peterson’s advice to “clean your room.” That’s basically “rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic”…and that idiom is the thrust behind self-help books.
I dunno, this is probably just a pedantic problem that I’ve created in my head. But if you’re in need of Axial-Age sage advice, I’ve personally found Buddhism…stripped of its spiritual and religious elements…to be far more useful as it teaches abstract thinking and encourages you to accept that the only constant in the universe is change.
My go-to site for nerdish bickering is Trekmovie.com. One of the writers for Star Trek 09 and Star Trek Into Darkness, Roberto Orci, infamously jumped onto fans there a few years ago. For internet anthropologist/historians like me, it’s a goldmine.
Trekkies just aren’t used to having nice things. And Strange New Worlds is a nice thing. Sure it’s not perfect, but overall it’s pretty good Star Trek.
But the latest episode involved a species called “the Gorn” who were first introduced in TOS way back in the sixties. If you’re not a Trek fan, you probably know who they are because a member of that species was involved in one of the most parodied scenes in all of science fiction:
In SNW, the Gorn were updated to look more terrifying and were introduced to Starfleet earlier than what canon allowed (SNW takes place before the adventures of Captain Kirk). This predictably caused a shitstorm with the fans.
Look, I can roll with the best of Star Trek nerds. But to most sane people, this is a big nothing-burger.
This is also why the James Bond series is the most underrated of all the long-running franchises. The producers simply don’t give two shits about canon. Each film can theoretically take place in its own timeline. They just don’t get bogged down in the details because their purpose is to entertain.
Arguably, Star Trek serves a different purpose. Still though, fans are missing the forest for the trees. The larger question should be: was it a GOOD episode?
Personally I thought they killed off Hemmer, a very solid character, too soon. But his death did provide a good character arc for Uhura (and laid the foundation for Spock’s most infamous decision in Star Trek II). Obviously they were going for an Alien feel in this episode (which is okay, science fiction series often steal from one another) but overall it was pretty good.
Some fans are angry because the writers aren’t inventing new species to explore. But this “alien of the week” method that Trek fans have become accustomed to makes the series feel paper thin. I like it when writers take the time to explore an existing world. It adds depth.
But this latest Star Trek struggle session only highlights what is perhaps my biggest annoyance. Just because something is old and established, that doesn’t make it holy. The people behind TOS, to include Gene Roddenberry, were making shit up as they went. Besides, no television writer will want to pour through 9 million hours of Star Trek just to make it all add up. Hell, except for myself and Mike Stoklasa, NO ONE would want to do that. And this not only goes for Star Trek, but also for the Bible, Plato, Aristotle, Karl Marx, etc etc. They are all products of man and they can be changed by man.
As fans, we should have only one question: is it good storytelling?
I can’t wait to be old. Not because I get to be an old bastard, but because I’ll be one step closer to death.
But I can see what it will be like.
Younger generations will be bitching about nuclear radiation, rising sea levels, unreal wealth inequality, the re-institution of debt prisons and chattel slavery, and our government’s inability to prevent asteroids from pummeling the Earth. Meanwhile, I’ll be wagging my finger, saying, “back in my day, we had to submit 9000 applications before we got an interview.”
This is why Gen X is the best generation: born too late to be held accountable, born too early to give a shit 👍
If any “alcoholic” tells you that it is easier to quit alcohol than to quit nicotine then you know that they aren’t a real alcoholic.
Quitting nicotine has been the easiest thing I’ve ever done. Sure, I got pissed off a lot. I cried a few times. Hell, some days I’d even stare into the void and ponder ways to kill myself. But I overcame it.
And through these trials and tribulations, I’ve come to realize something: this blog is a pain in my ass.
As usual, I keep coming across the same old solution: I need to stop doing so much.
Is life a race?
You’re damn right it is. I want to get all this living over with. But why make life more painful than it needs to be?
That’s another thing that pisses me off…why does it take so much for people to be happy? You’re breathing right? You can pay the bills, correct? You have access to internet pornography? What fucking more do you need?
“But I gotta feed my kids 😭,” you say
“I gotta have insulin for my Type II diabetes 😭.”
Don’t worry about it. You know why? Cuz God provides.
“God will provide for my crippling gambling debts 😀?”
He sure will.
Of course I don’t need God. I’m much too powerful for that bullshit. But you do.
It takes real strength to admit weakness. At least keep telling yourself that. As for me, I have no weaknesses.
But the point is you gotta recognize your own weaknesses before you can start making improvements. And I’ve realized that my so called “weakness” is trying to take on too much responsibility.
So actually, I don’t have a problem at all. I’m just a too damn good of a person.
So say ‘no’ to paying your bills and staying healthy, and ‘yes’ to more drugs and internet pornography.
I’m just doing what my therapist told me to do 🤷♂️
“Hey God, God Alliance, the Holy Divers…whatever the fuck you call yourselves…come get your boy!” I radioed to the new energy source on radar.
Yah jammed the transmission. “Captain, you have fucked me over for the last time,” he said over the intercom. “You will never escape me. I’ll chase you around the moons of Nibia and around the Antares Maelstrom and around perdition’s flames before I give you up!”
“Suck my limp dick!” I replied.
The energy source pursuing Yah was gaining on him. And with his final act, Yah tail whipped the rear of the Sagan, causing the ship to spin out of control.
“Fire the braking thrusters!” I ordered Valdez.
“Thrusters are having no effect!”
I radioed down to engineering. “Nia, more power to the brakes!”
“Sir,” she replied, “breaking thrusters were destroyed in the last hit! There’s a coolant leak in engineering. I’m diverting power to both the lift and main thrusters. That will stop the spinning, but we will be unable to stop in forward motion!”
“Captain, we’re hurdling towards a massive object ahead. 50,000km and closing,” Dr. Jackass said.
“Valdez! Give it some gas!” I yelled.
Valdez floored it. We were seconds away from crashing into a large meteor in front of us. The Sagan got caught in the object’s orbit and we spun around it a few times until we broke free.
The ship was now on a straight path, but we were still traveling at light speed. “We dodged that bullet,” The Doctor said, “but it’s only a matter of time before we collide with another object!”
I called back down to engineering. “Nia, can you stop the engines?”
“Not at this speed sir!” she replied. “And with our coolant depleted, I am unable to ramp them down. We will continue to increase speed until the engines burn out, but there will be no way of stopping the ship!”
We were now traveling at 1.5 times the speed of light and increasing. It was the fastest that humanity had ever achieved. But it was going to cost the lives of my crew.
Valdez and Jackass looked to me for answers. I had none.
I went over the intercom.
“Attention crew of the Sagan,”I said, “it has been the privilege of a lifetime to serve as your captain. All of you are fine officers. You have achieved only what others have dreamt. Let’s just hope history never forgets the name: The USV Carl Sagan.”
I leaned back in the seat and closed my eyes. Vibration began increasing.
Then there was a miracle.
“Sir!” Valdez yelled. “Speed is decreasing!”
I opened my eyes. The universe was no longer speeding past us. Finally, the Sagan reached a full stop.
“What the hell happened?” I asked.
There was a voice behind me. “I stopped this piece of shit from flying apart, that’s what happened,” it said.
I turned around and there was a Jack Lemmon-looking asshole dressed in white robes standing on the bridge.
“Who are you?” I said to the strange man.
“You’re God?! I thought Yah was God!”
“No moron! Yah’s that damn Deceiver fella mentioned in that book of yours, the uhh…,” God started snapping his fingers to jog his memory.
“The Bible?” I said
“The Bible! That’s it! He had this cockamamie idea that he could come to Earth and establish a kingdom for himself or some stupid crap. I dunno. We stopped him and thought that he should be a prisoner to YOU guys because he tortured all of you for so long. Clearly that didn’t work out. So now we’re gonna have to find some other way to punish Yah. That guy’s fucking nuts!”
“So are you the ONLY God?”
“I’m the only one NAMED God, if that’s what you mean. But no, there’s a lot more like me.”
“What do you guys DO?”
“Hey! You stay out of our affairs and we’ll stay out of yours PAL!”
“But Earth needs your help.”
“Let me tell you something: no they don’t. You think that because we’re “gods” that we don’t know what it’s like to be you guys? Guess what? We were like you humans at one time. Humanity can climb out of this mess and come back stronger than ever. You know what? I believe in YOU. How do you like that irony?”
“Can you at least help the Ishnarians?”
“Yeah yeah, I’ll go back to Ishnar. I’m used to cleaning up Yah’s shit.”
“I have just one more favor to ask.”
“What do you want now?”
“Can you send us back to Earth? The ship’s kinda broken.”
“Look, I’m not allowed to break the laws of time. Earth’s kinda a shithole right now. Don’t worry though, there’s still people there but they’re all living underground. How bout I put you back in your hibernation chambers and by the time you reach Earth, radiation levels will be back to normal. Sound like a deal?”
“Alright, sweet dreams.” Then God snapped his fingers again.
Many decades later…
The Sagan was orbiting Earth. Tranquility Bay was abandoned and uninhabitable. I made the decision to land on the surface.
“Radiation levels have stabilized, Captain,” Dr. Jackass said.
“Thank you Doctor.” From the bridge, I looked out through the view screen, down to the big blue marble below. “Should we attempt communication?” I asked.
“There doesn’t appear to be any technology to receive it,” the Doctor replied.
“We really are back to the stone ages then,” I said. “I’ll be down in engineering.”
I met with Commander Mwangi at her station. “How’s the landing gear?” I asked.
“All systems are functioning normally, sir,” she replied. But she wouldn’t look at me.
“Is everything alright Commander?”
Mwangi stood up from her desk and turned her face towards me. “You took a big gamble Captain,” she said. “You risked the safety of the entire crew.”
“I ain’t apologizing for getting into a stare down with the devil and winning,” I replied.
“We could’ve been killed!”
“I couldn’t allow you to live in sexual slavery!”
Mwangi sucker punched me right in the face. As I stood in a daze, she grabbed my head and kissed me passionately. “You are one stupid, STUPID son of a bitch,” she said, “but I thank you for it.” She rubbed her body against mine as she sidestepped her way back to work.
I had no idea what just happened. But I liked it.
I returned to the bridge and patted Valdez on the shoulder. “I never congratulated you on your pregnancy. Congratulations Commander,” I told her.
“Thank you, sir.”
“Are you ready to raise this child in a brave new world?”
“So you cast God into hell?” I asked Hazov as we were descending deep into the surface of Ishnar in an elevator.
“That’s one way of putting it,” he responded. “But be warned though: Yah can still read your thoughts. We have yet developed the technology to block that ability. Other than that, he is completely contained within the chamber.”
“How does this chamber work?” Dr. Jackass asked.
“The walls of the chamber itself is reinforced with titanium-like nano tubing. This prevents porous openings all the way down to the quantum foam level. Even God can’t penetrate past that micro surface,” Hazov said.
“Fascinating,” The Doctor replied. “How did you obtain this technology? Forgive me, but technology on Earth appears to be beyond that of Ishnar and yet we haven’t developed those capabilities.”
“This technology was given to us by the ‘God Species’, as your captain calls it. This is why our technological capabilities appear to be so uneven.”
“Indeed, your culture appears to be from the Middle Ages of Earth, yet you’re using interplanetary radios, plasma weapons, and advanced forms language translation.” the Doctor said.
“Doctor,” I interrupted, “you’re about to meet God…or the first CONFIRMED alien life…and this is what you’re interested in?”
“Captain, I understand that you’re nervous, but it is part of Space Fleet’s mission to study extraterrestrial cultures.”
I rolled my eyes.
Finally the elevator stopped roughly 8 km underground. As we walked through the corridor to Yah’s holding area, Hazov continued to brief us. “A transparent piece of aluminum will allow you to see into the chamber,” he said. “Yah can take any form he chooses, but it’s only a mirage. While he can read your thoughts, you cannot communicate telepathically. You will have to speak with him over the monitors, and he will do the same for you.”
When we reached the guards holding large plasma rifles, Hazov stopped us and pinned a device onto Dr. Jackass and me. “This is just a precaution,” he stated, “but Yah is highly radioactive. The chamber should contain the radiation, but should any leak, this device will absorb it.”
Hazov could see I was shaking nervously. “Captain, you’ll be fine,” he said to me, “sure Yah played a big part in our histories. But he’s not actually God. While his material is not fully understood, insofar as we can tell he is made of normal matter just like you and me. He can’t hurt you. So don’t let him get to you.”
Hazov smiled and patted me on the shoulder. Then the doctor and I proceeded past the guards. We were escorted down a long corridor, where there at the very end was a large square chamber with a medium-sized window revealing a radiant orange glow inside.
I walked up to the window. But I couldn’t tell anything discerning inside, other than the orange mist. “Can he hear me?” I asked one of the guards.
He nodded. Then I opened my mouth.
“I am Captain William Kananga of the USV Carl Sagan. My first officer here is Dr. Sergei Jackass. We are members of Space Fleet representing Earth: a planet that I believe you are familiar with.”
Moments went by and there was no response. I looked back to the guard. “Are you sure he can hear me?” I asked him.
Then a strange voice came over the monitor.
“I know who you are,” the voice said. It wasn’t a deep voice, certainly not one I would associate with God. But it had resonance.
“Of course,” I replied. “I understand that you wish to return to Earth. What is your past associations there?”
“Siddhartha Gautama, Moshes, Mohammed, Yeshua: the Carpenter of Nazareth,” the voice replied.
“I’m afraid that I’m unfamiliar with Moshes.”
“You know him as Moses. I gave him the Ten Commandments.”
“Right. That’s why he was glowing as he came down Mt. Sinai. He was exposed to high levels of radiation.”
“That’s why I said that no man can see my face and live. I gave mankind scriptures to protect them from themselves.”
“Unfortunately those scriptures have been used to justify hate, discrimination, and war for thousands of years.”
“Yes, but humankind were savages when I found them. I gave them the power of reasoning to help them grow. Evolve.”
“What good that did them. What about the Holocaust? Nuclear war?”
“I had nothing to do with that. If I was permitted to stay on Earth, I could have prevented all of that.”
“You seem to want to take credit for humanity’s successes but want to evade responsibility for all of its ills and your failure in preventing them. Even your own “scriptures” make you look like the bad guy.”
“Mistakes were made, of course. And I’m prepared to answer for those. But humanity needs me now, more than ever. Earth has been destroyed in a nuclear war, has it not?”
I looked over to a concerned Dr. Jackass and back to the chamber. “I know what you’re trying to do,” I said to Yah. “But you’re not God. You’re not an all powerful, all loving deity. You’re a charlatan that wonders from planet to planet, taking advantage of vulnerable species.”
“I know that you beat off to Commander Mwangi this morning,” Yah said.
“What’s that got to do with anything?”
“She’s going to have your child, ya know?” Yah continued. “You will be a better father to it than you ever were to the son you left behind on Earth to die in those nuclear bombs.”
“Commander Valdez is pregnant too. The late Commander Smashhouse is the father…”
“You’re not benevolent,” I interrupted. “You’re a sick, sad, and lonely being. Not worthy of our worship.”
“I am Alpha and Omega. The Beginning and the End. I shall have no other gods before me!” Yah declared as the orange glow morphed into a mirage of my late son.
“I’ve listened to enough of this hubris,” I said then stormed out of the corridor. As I walked passed the guards, I threw off the radiation device.
“Captain, are you all right?” the Doctor asked as he ran up behind me.
“What happened?” Hazov asked.
“Hazov, my recommendation is to sling that fucking thing in there right into the sun,” I said, then stormed into the elevator. Hazov and Jackass rushed in behind me. “Take me back to the surface!”
The two men were silent as I tried to cool down. As the elevator ascended, the doctor touched me on the arm.