Memories....

.... from last year.....

.... in between thunderstorms today, I've managed to hold down a bit of patio furniture out back and dig into an old anthology of American War Poetry...... and since today is Memorial Day - a day for remembering those sacrifices of our Warriors - I'll share a few lines that I myself enjoyed out under the dogwoods this afternoon......

.... this first selection was written by a young George Washington.....

...The General (Edward Braddock) received the wound of which he died; but previous to it, had several horses killed and disabled under him. captains Orme and Morris his two Aides de Camp having received wounds which rendered them unable to attend, G.W. (Washington) remained the sole aid throughout the day, to the General; he also had one horse killed, and two wounded under him - A ball through his hat - and several through his clothes, but escaped unhurt.....

"The shocking Scenes which presented themselves in this Nights March are not to be described - The dead - the dying - the groans - lamentations - and cries along the Road of the wounded for help (for those under the latter descriptions endeavored from the first commencement of the action - or rather confusion - to escape to the second division) were enough to pierce a heart of adamant, the gloom and horror of which was not a little encreased by the impervious darkness which in places rendered it impossible for the two guides which attended to know whether they were in, or out of the tracks but by groping on the ground with their hands."

...George Washington, on General Edward Braddock's defeat by combined French and Indian forces in 1755, from Washington on Washington.

..... and a hundred or so years later, Walt Whitman had this to say......

"The dead in this war - there they lie, stewing the fields and woods and valleys and battlefields of the South - Virginia, the Peninsula, Malvern Hill and Fair Oaks, the banks of the Chickahominy, the terraces of Fredricksburg, Antietam Bridge, the grisly ravines of Manassas, the bloody promenade of the Wilderness; the varieties of the strayed dead (the estimate of the War Department is twenty-five thousand national soldiers killed in battle and never buried at all; three thousand drowned; fifteen thousand inhumed by strangers or on the march in haste, in hitherto unfound localities; two thousand graves covered by sand and mud, by Mississippi freshets; three thousand carried away by caving-in of banks, etc; Gettysburg, the West, numberless battles, camps, hospitals everywhere; the crop reaped by the mighty reapers - typhoid, dysentery, inflammations; and - blackest and loathsomest of all - the dead, and living burial pits - the prison pens of Andersonville, Salisbury, Belle Isle, etc)..... The dead, the dead, the dead, our dead - "

Walt Whitman, "The Million Dead, Too, Summed Up", from Walt Whitman's 'Civil War'.....


.... to every family who has sent someone off to war, you have my utmost gratitude and respect....... and for those who have died for our freedoms?.... defending us?.... may we continue from now until the end of the world to be a nation that is worthy of your sacrifice........

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Linking?.....

..... Ooom Keesie evidently needs a link and thinks that we have been somehow shortdicking him for a while..... and for that, I am sorry....... but, rest assured that it was not ME who was shortdicking him, as that is not my forte at all......... which means that it must have been Velociman doing the deed, yes?.......

..... that's the best that I can figure after reading Keesie's drivel anyway.......... right?....

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Snakes....

..... I still remember the first time that I ever saw a snake....I was five years old, and I had spent an entire summer day 'helping' my Father clear brush from our little four acre plot out in the hinterlands just west of Madisonville, Tennessee....

.... the land had been a gift from my maternal Grandfather when my folks had gotten married..... he ended up giving all of his five children between 3 and 5 acres of his little farm when their Mother died, and then he had moved on to seek a new life as an aging, W.W.II veteran as best he could..... in retrospect, I guess he did pretty good for himself in life....... he'd scraped that land deep before my Grandma Geneva finally died...... and I think he just found himself a bit rudderless once she'd passed on....... so, he broke up the farm and moved a few miles east towards the mountains....

.... years later - on the day that he died - the family all gathered back in the old block house that he had built at the end of the road, and mourned together...... and, not far from that very first snake, I saw and killed my second snake with my Cousin Calvin in tow.....

.... that first snake had been an Eastern Racer, and it had wrapped itself around the stump of an old cedar tree that my Dad had been trying to remove from the edge of a field....... it must have been hunting in the brush, because by the time Dad had cleared away all the brush, all that was left was the stump........ and that poor, frightened snake was standing its ground and holding onto that stump for dear life.......

.... Dad called me over to show it me..... then he reached down, grabbed my hand, and smiled.... "we'll just move on over to the fence row, Eric," he said....... "and give that little fellow a chance to be on his way...... black snakes are good for keeping mice and rats down, Son..... there's no sense in killing it just for the want of killing..".......

..... but that second snake?.... yeah, Calvin and I killed it...... well, I killed it while Calvin watched.... it was a copperhead nearly three feet long, and I bashed it in the head with a rock while it basked in a stream behind Grandpa's old house.......... we carried it back to the house where the grieving aunts and uncles were making dinner and skinned it on the back porch...... I still have the skin, actually....... that was in March of 1986...... and I was fourteen years old..... the skin is nailed to the back of my Father's barn door, but it has definitely seen better days........ but, yet, it is there....... a reminder....

..... you know, it has always amazed me how a 6'3" 265lb man could STILL be as frightened of snakes as Calvin is..... we're only separated in birth by about two months, but he has always been scared stiff at the very sight of a snake of any shape or size......

.... I suppose that most people have a natural aversion to snakes, but they've never bothered me..... they're just another beast that is either useful or isn't..... some can be harmful, but most are just seeking to live out their lives without ever coming into contact with a human being...... hell, calling a human a snake is actually a huge disservice to all snakes everywhere.....

.... I have held three live snakes in my hands before....(not including that one dead copperhead).... and of the three that I held, only one lived to slither another day..... a poor chicken snake, a pregnant garter snake - both of which I caught roaming parent's lawn, well, I ended up killing them both...... the third was a boa constrictor of some kind that The Missus asked me to hold while we visited some herpetology center on the Isle of Skye while on vacation...... and the handler who draped it across my neck and shoulders would have been very upset if I had harmed it in any way.......

.... I bring this up, of course, only in passing since The Missus was recently roused from a relaxing afternoon in her backyard hammock by a 6-foot long eastern racer catching her attention while she was attempting to read........

..... evidently she is one of those folks like Cousin Calvin..... she ran into the house huffing and puffing - her face read from a sudden blood pressure rise..... "I've just seen a snake!..... it stopped by the hammock, and then darted off towards the woodpile!"........ I laughed and asked what it looked like..... then grabbed the shovel and set off to investigate........ I eventually found the little guy laying about fifteen feet into the woods past the wood pile.... he was calm, cool, and paying us no attention at all........ I propped the shovel against the woodpile and advised The Missus to rest easy again in her hammock........ there was no threat there at all........ just a little snake doing what it is supposed to do.......

..... besides, there isn't that much of a reason to be scared of a real snake...... most of them post little danger.... and very few are actually going to hurt us unless we are pretty stupid...... in this world, it is the two-legged snakes who post an infinitely greater danger to each and every one of us......

.... it's just a pity that we can't take the sharp end of a shovel to them as easily as we can to a mild-mannered garden snake........

.... God knows that they deserve that fate much more than their reptilian cousins......

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Average.....

... in just about every single respect that my mind can imagine, I am an average guy.... I'm of a roughly average height and weight for an American of my generation.....I am 6'2" tall and 195lbs, but that is nothing compared to the giants that the United States is currently spewing out......... hell, I have an average education...... I drive an average car, although I do love her deeply..... I'm a freckled red-head as well who happens to be from The South...... and I've actually been told (on more than one occasion) that I look like I just stepped out of a Norman Rockwell painting...... jeans, tee-shirt, sneakers or saddle-shoes, crewcut hair and usually sporting a sunburn...... that's me.......

...... I even have an average genealogy, I suspect...... 1/8th American Indian and the rest a mishmash of Scots, Irish, English, and German......maybe some French and Dutch thrown in for good measure?........

.... and all in all, among other things, I am probably the most average human being that you will ever meet in your life........ and really, I am quite ok with that...... I am a blue jean wearing, freckled, redhead with a crewcut and a slight Southern drawl........

.... but, anyway, I bring this up, mainly, because of a conversation that The Missus instigated two nights ago....... and it has been rattling around in my noggin for the better part of that time to a greater or lesser extent......

...... we'd been watching "The Two Jakes" after having a few cocktails, when she turned unexpectedly to me on the couch and said, "Tell me who you think is sexy!"....

.... I was, of course, rattled slightly..... especially since I had just witnessed the scene where Jake told his "client" to "turn around, get down on your knees, put your ass in the air, and don't move until I tell you to."........ I mean, can you imagine?..... good god, Mr. Nicholson's character saying that and unzipping his fly at the same time?..... are you fucking kidding?...... who on earth was more fucking sexy than that poor, horny, confused lass kneeling there with her skirt pulled up, her garters unclipped, and her gazing back at Nicholson while he chewed his cigarette and fumbled with his belt?..... Jesus Christ......

..... so, as you would in a situation like that, I queried further..... "what do you mean, dear?.... sexy?...... as in who is attractive?...... who is pretty?..... who I would want to fuck?...... what do you mean by sexy?.... you can't just ask a question like that and expect someone to start blurting out names, babe..... 'sexy' doesn't work that way...... you must clarify before I can even being to answer a question like that honestly.".....

.... she flopped back in the seat, crossed her arms, and then harrumphed rather loudly while I let my eyes drift back to the film on the television......

.... "Ok, then....tell me who you think is beautiful."

..... "There is a big, big difference between beautiful and being sexy, woman.... do you understand that?.... surely you must understand that....... do women not feel the same as men in this regard?".....

.... she stared at me for a moment, and then she answered...... "I think Pierce Brosnan is sexy..".....

...... I nodded, of course..... what else was I to do?..... he is a pretty man, sure....... and I know that many women must think of him as being quite the fella....... but, really?.... well, I have known grilled squid who appealed to me more on a "fundamental" level than that Nancy boy ever did......... so, I cleared my throat.....

.... "yes," I said, "I can see how you would think that he is a sexy man..... he looks good in a tuxedo, he is (or was) James Bond, and he does have a lovely accent...... sure, Pierce Brosnan..... cool...... "....

.... I left the conversation exactly at that..... I was finished and had nothing further to add.... .but then she asked me again....... "so, who do YOU think is sexy?".......

..... I was beginning to feel a bit out of sorts by the questioning, I guess...... and then I finally just said, "look, sexy is not a thing..... sexy is not A Body...... sexy is not a piece of meat to be used however you see fit...... Sexy is a State Of Mind, woman.... sure, there are people that I can see and admire..... and there are women that I can look at and enjoy viewing...... BUT, do I consider them sexy?.... no...... I do not....... for me to consider anyone "sexy" means that I not only enjoy what I see, BUT that I also know them.... I know what is on their mind... I know how they think.... I know what they want...... sure, in some cases we transpose our own ideas onto how someone might be if we ever met them, but in all of those cases the MIND is involved......... Sexy does not - and never will - simply equate to someone being a perfectly proportioned piece of meat...."....

... and then, yet again, she pushed me...... "so, using your definition, who do you find attractive?.... who do you think is the perfect woman?.... Angelina Jolie?..... Michele Pfeiffer?...... who?..... "

...... and to be honest, it took me a very, very long time to answer her that last time..... and the whole time that I was thinking, I knew that she had missed the point entirely.....

.... finally I said, "well, if you were to ask me who the most attractive woman in the world is, I would have to say Liz Taylor at 18 years of age..... when she played opposite Paul Newman in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"..... good god, she was perfect.... "

... "Ok.... I agree that Liz Taylor was gorgeous when she was young..... but who else?".....

... and thus began the litany of attractive females that I was forced to list........ some of which might amuse you, and some of which might horrify you as much as they did The Missus.... but, either way, here they are.......

... Donna Reed in "It's a Wonderful Life"...... can you not just imagine Jimmy Stewart making her toes curl once they'd put the kids to bed and the fire was lit, and the Angel had paid all the bank's bills?..... good god, I bet he nailed the living shit out of Donna after Kapra yelled 'cut'......can you imagine?.... I bet she was an absolute tiger when the lights went down..... did I just ruin your next Christmas evening's family entertainment?..... I certainly hope not, because, well, what I said is most likely the complete and honest truth.......

.... Liz Taylor in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"... hey, statement of fact, people..... NO ONE wears a neck-length haircut like she does in that movie.... and no one wears a little white slip like she does either, if my mind recollects correctly......... and her neck is a thing of absolute beauty... good god, a well turned neck is something to behold...... too bad Brick was gay, eh?.... otherwise he would have noticed the gentle swell of her hips and how that fabric clung to her at each movement instead of haranguing Big Daddy during his final hours...... but, well, that's Tennessee Williams for you....... in retrospect, it is a Grand Wonder that they cast Liz Taylor in that role to begin with.......

.... if Williams had has his way, I suspect Liz would have been a lot more butch......... but, I digress.....

.... Marilyn Monroe when she was stuck half-way in and half-way out of that porthole in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes"...... (I have never been much of a blonde fan myself, but having those ends of Marilyn hanging in mid-air and helpless?... immobilized, even?.... well, good god..... the possibilities are absolutely endless...) ..... that scene, in itself, is the Singular moment in most men's young lives when they truly wish that they could bend time, space, and physical boundaries and REALLY be in two places at one time........ and those two times would be on either side of that bulkhead where she was dangling, dear friends.......... BOTH sides......

... next up, Nancy Travis in "Three Men and a Little Lady"........ hey, who doesn't like a cute, well-groomed MILF?...... and she had a sweetness about her that just made you want to bring her buttered toast in bed every morning after she had put up with your snoring all night long....... there is just something about her that makes her seem like Mom, you know?....... well, not YOUR Mom..... but that cute, sexy Mom of your best friend who always patted your head and gave you an extra cheese sandwich before she secured your floaties and pushed you off into the swimming pool......... the swimming pool of life, as it turns out, but still, you are both there in recent memory...... AND she put up living with Three Men..... so, that also insinuates a bit of a kinky side to ole Nancy......

..... and we cannot forget a very recent addition either.... on Miss Katherine Heigl in "The Ugly Truth"....... god, when she is wearing the remote control vibrating kickers at the business dinner party?....... and the toddler finds - and starts pushing the buttons on the remote control?....... well, that particular scenario is just beyond words........ losing control - or giving up control - has got to be one of the sexiest things EVER........ right?........ sexy is all about the Trust and the Giving.... and the Letting Go......... trust me..... I've owned many of Milo Manara's original artworks for years - and I have thoroughly enjoyed them, but that scene from "The Ugly Truth" and the first of his graphic novels in the "Click" series?...... well, let me just say that whomever wrote "The Ugly Truth" must also be a huge closet Milo Manara fan......... because, really, he certainly deserves the credit for the whole "Click" scene.....

....and Penelope what's-her-name from "Kindergarten Kop"...... you know, the school teacher with the flower-patterned skirt and the curly reddish-blonde hair?......... she looked so adorably innocent even though she was a bad girl underneath........ good god...... what kind of a school teacher marries a gangster, flees for her life, and then falls in love with Arnold Schwarzenegger?...... still, she did look a bit like a librarian..... and, well, I have always had a thing for them.......

.... see?..... what is pretty?...... what is beautiful?...... and what is sexy?....... to be honest, I think the last of my references fucked The Missus up the most, but really, in what way should I really care about this whole circumstance to begin with?......... who we want, what we want, and WHY we want it is all in the eye of the beholder, yes?....

.... I could name a million people (men and women) that I think are handsome or beautiful..... and I could probably name ten women off the top of my head that I think are sexy..... and believe it or not, most of the ten women that I would name as being sexy would never appear on the "beautiful" list....... these two thing may be the same from time to time, but they are NOT always exclusive........

.... for each of us there is A One who we cling to, crave, want, and long for...... and as the tides of things come and go, we see handsome men and women - and we recognize them...... and we see sexy women and men....... and we notice them as well......... but really, for me at least, no matter what comes and does as the scene of my life rolls by, there will always be only one........

..... some women are sexually attracted to men that most would see as average...... but in spite of their overall looks, they might have a smell, a manner of dress, a way of talking, a sense of humor, a look, a way of carrying themselves, or another kind of trigger that makes them look a bit sideway at them and say, 'hmm'...... so how can one quantify that?.... I think Mr. Normal over there is quite the sexy beast."..... the powers of attraction are still a curious thing to both man AND woman, folks, but yet, there they are.......

.... I know that I am rambling, but really, this is something that I have been thinking about for a very long time.......

.... look, you can be the prettiest girl in the world, or the most handsome man in the world, but that doesn't mean that you are worth the time for a good, hard fuck..... beauty is something that is transitory with time, folks......... but sexy?...... sexy is something that you will have with you for the rest of your life......

.... sexy is not a look, friends....... Sexy is an attitude...... and those of us who have seen it will never, ever forget it........ good god, those of us who have seen it first hand will never, EVER forget it.....

.... True Love is life-changing.......

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Dead.....

...... tomorrow would have been John Wayne's 103rd birthday - had he still been alive today..... and tomorrow as well, I guess, since I chose that particular way to compose the odd sentence above.......

..... but anyway, you get the point...... had his Great Personage not been whisked away from us all so long ago - and in such an untimely manner (as I am sure he would agree readily himself if his tongue hadn't already liquefied decades ago), he'd have been 103 tomorrow.....

..... but, sadly, he IS dead, after all....

..... however, that does not necessarily mean that we cannot still celebrate his birthday tomorrow with happy festivities, fireworks, picnics, and such..... god knows that I certainly will......

... I remember a time when one of my old Marine Corps buddies came to visit me in Scotland after we'd both de-mobbed from the Corps...... he'd just suffered through a heavy dose of jetlag, and when he finally emerged from the spare bedroom I greeted him with breakfast, a pint of McEwan's, and a promise of an old John Wayne movie to wake him up and put him in the right frame of mind for exploring Scotland...... well, he ate the breakfast, downed the pint, and then baulked at the idea of watching a Duke flick....... I did my best to assure him that he'd enjoy it, but he was a dyed-in-the-wool Clint Eastwood fan and didn't agree.....

.... I chose "Cahill, U.S. Marshall" that morning, and after the opening credits he was a born again fan of John Wayne.......

.... he actually sat in my living room - after the opening credit scene finished playing - and said, "I always thought Wayne was just a washed up old fat man....... but that scene?...... that's possibly the best opening scene for a Western that I have ever seen....." ....

.... and frankly, I could not agree with him more....... so, here it is....

..... Happy Birthday, John Wayne....... wherever you are, I hope that there are giant barrels of tequila and lots of dusky maidens to pour it for you.........

.... and for what it's worth, I wish you'd made it to one hundred and three......

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Cohen....

I've heard that there was a secret chord That David played and it pleased the Lord but you don't really care for music, do ya?

It goes like this -
The Fourth, The Fifth, The Minor fall, The Major lift
the baffled king composing Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Your faith was strong, but you needed proof
you saw her bathing on the roof
her beautify and the moonlight overthrew you

She tied you to a kitchen chair
she broke your throne, she cut your hair
and from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Baby I've been here before,
I know this room, I've walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you

I've seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
it's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

There was a time you let me know
what's really going on below
but now you never show it to me, do you?

and remember when I moved in you
And the holy dove was moving too
and every breath we drew was Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Maybe there 's a God above,
All I ever learned from love
was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you

and its not a cry you can hear at night
It's not somebody who's seen the light
it's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

..... the work of Mr. Leonard Cohen that I read today for the first time - after having listened to the song many, many times....... odd how I never caught the full power of the lyrics until today..... and wow..... they're beautiful....

... if you fancy singing along, then I highly recommend this version...... enjoy....

.... and with that?.... well, Hallelujah, folks... ......

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Carbonara....

.... rummaging through the cupboard yesterday, I threw together some ingredients that turned out pretty damned good, if I do say so myself...

1 cup of grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tblspn chopped garlic
1 large white onion - finely chopped
1/2 lb of bacon - sliced into 1/2 inch strips
1 jar of Bertolli's 4-cheese Alfredo sauce
1 1/2 cup of chopped bella mushrooms
1/4 pint of heavy whipping cream
a pasta of your choice

... combine bacon, black pepper, garlic, and onion in a sauce pan over medium heat until the bacon is crispy and the onions have begun to caramelize... no need for oil, of course, the grease from the bacon will be more than enough to ensure the onions are cooked properly....

.... stir in the Alfredo sauce, whipping cream, mushroom, and parmesan cheese.... bring to a boil - stirring continuously - and then remove from heat and cook your pasta..... once the pasta is finished, fill a plate with it and then ladle the cheesy, bacony, creamy, mushroomy mess all over the pasta...... I suggest you throw a few pieces of garlic bread on the side as well, if you are so inclined......

.... and that, boys and girls, is a cheap & easy carbonara that'll absolutely blow your mind.....

... and now I'm off to grill up a few steaks for dinner and try to find myself a gin and tonic...... hey, who says you can't have bacon for dinner?......

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Orange.....

.... yesterday, way back in 1935, T. E. Lawrence died as a result of a motorcycle accident...... and it has been weighing on my mind for the past two days..... a man who studied, worked, and lived in Syria, Mesopotamia, and Arabia?.... who fought wars, politicked, and spied?....... and then ended up splattered across a road in darkest England......

... ahhh, never mind, I guess........ it's all part of a bigger picture....... but still, it seems such a waste..... my dream vacation has always been to ride a camel from Casablanca to Alexandria without dying of thirst or being shot at.... and in reading some of Mr. Arabia's writings, he was always a bit of an inspiration.........

.... in other news, I have just discovered something amazing as far as literary circles go, and I feel like sharing..... actually, it is one of the most scathing preludes that I have ever read...... and well worth the time it takes to let your eyes pass over it....

..... from the foreward written by the author, Anthony Burgess, in the latest publishing of the American version of his book, A Clockwork Orange....


A Clockwork Orange Resucked

I first published the novella A Clockwork Orange in 1962, which ought to be far enough in the past for it to be erased from the world's literary memory. It refuses to be erased, however, and for this the film version of the book made by Stanley Kubrick may be held chiefly responsible. I should myself be glad to disown it for various reasons, but this is not permitted. I receive mail from students who try to write thesis about it, or request from Japanese dramaturges to turn it into a sort of Noh play. It seems likely to survive, while other works of mine that I value more bite the dust. This is not an unusual experience for an artist. Rachmaninov used to groan because he was known mainly for a Prelude in C Sharp Minor which he wrote as a boy, while the works of his maturity never got into the programme. Kids cut their painastic teeth on a Minuet in G which Beethohoven composed only so that he could detest it. I have to go on living with A Clockwork Orange, and this means I have a sort of authorial duty to it. I have a very special duty to it in the United States, and I had better now explain what this duty is.

Let me put this situation boldly. A Clockwork Orange has never been published entire in America. The book I wrote is divided into three sections of seven chapters each. Take out your pocket calculator and you will find that these add up to a total of 21 chapters. 21 is the symbol of human maturity, or used to be, since at 21 you got the vote and assumed adult responsibility. Whatever its symbology, the number 21 was the number I started out with. Novelists of my stamp are interested in what is called arithmology, meaning that numbers have to mean something in human terms when they handle it. The number of chapters is never entirely arbitrary. Just as a musical composer starts off with a vague image of bulk and duration, so a novelist begins with an image of length, and this image is expressed in the number of sections and number of chapters into which the work will be disposed. Those 21 chapters were important to me.

But they were not important to my New York publisher. The book he brought out had only 20 chapters. He insisted on cutting out the 21st. I could, of course, have demurred at this and taken my book elsewhere, but it was considered that he was being charitable in accepting the work at all, and that all other New York, or Boston, publishers would kick out the manuscript on its dog-ear. I needed money back in 1961, even the pittance that I was being offered as an advance, and if the condition of the book's acceptance was also its truncation - well, so be it. So there is a profound difference between A Clockwork Orange as Great Britain knows it and the somewhat slimmer volume that bears the same name in the United States of America.

Let us go further. The rest of the world was sold the book out of Great Britain, and so most versions - certainly the French, Italian, Spanish, Catalan, Russian, Hebrew, Romanian, and German translations - have the original 21 chapters. Now when Stanley Kubrick made his film - though he made it in England - he followed the American version and, so it seemed to his audiences outside America, ended the story somewhat prematurely. Audiences did not exactly clamor for their money back, but they wondered why Kubrick left out the denouement. People wrote to me about this - indeed much of my later life has been expended on Xeroxing statements of intention and the frustration of intention - while both Kubrick and my New York publisher coolly bask in the rewards of their misdemeanor. Life is, of course, terrible.

What happens in that 21st chapter? You now have the chance to find out. Briefly, my young thuggish protagonist grows up. He grows bored with violence and recognizes that human energy is better expended on creation than destruction. Senseless violence is a prerogative of youth, which has much energy but little talent for the constructive. Its dynamism has to find an outlet in smashing telephone kiosks, derailing trains, stealing cars and smashing things and, of course, in the much more satisfactory activity of destroying human beings. There comes a time, however, when violence is seen as juvenile and boring. It is the repoirte of the stupid and ignorant. My young hoodlum comes to the revelation of the need to get something done in life - to marry, to beget children, to keep the orange of the world turning in the rookers of bog, or Hand of God, and perhaps even create something - music, say. After all, Mozart and Mendelssohn were composing deathless music in their teens or nadsats and all my hero was doing was razrezzing and giving the old in-out. It is with a kind of shame that this growing youth looks back on his devastating past. He wants a different kind of future.

There is no hint of this change of intention in the 20th chapter. The boy is conditioned, then de-conditioned, and he foresees with glee a resumption of the operation of free and violent will. "I was cured alright," he says, and so the American book ends. So the film ends too. The 21st chapter gives the novel the quality of genuine fiction, an art founded on the principle that human beings change. There is, in fact, not much point in writing a novel unless you can show the possibility of moral transformation, or an increase in wisdom, operating in your chief character or characters. Even trashy bestsellers show people changing. When a fictional work fails to show change, then it merely indicates that human character is set, stony, unregenerable, then you are out of the field of the novel and into that of the fable or the allegory. The American or Kubrickian Orange is a fable; the British or World one is a novel.

But my New York publisher believed that my 21st chapter was a sell-out. It was veddy, veddy British, don't you know. It was bland and it showed a Pelagian unwillingness to accept that a human being could be a model of unregenerable evil. The Americans, he said in effect, were tougher than the British and could face up to reality. Soon they would be facing up to it in Vietnam. My book was Kennedian and accepted the notion of moral progress. What was really wanted was a Nixonian book with no shred of optimism in it. Let us have evil prancing on the page and, up to the very last line, sneering in the face of all the inherited beliefs, Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Holy Roller, about people being able to make themselves better. Such a book would be sensational, and so it is. But I do not think it is a fair picture of human life.

I do not think so because, by definition, a human being is endowed with free will. He can use this to choose between good and evil. But if he can only perform good or only perform evil, then he is a Clockwork Orange - meaning that he has the appearance of an organism lovely with color and juice but is in fact only a clockwork toy to be wound up by God or the Devil or (since this increasingly replacing both) The Almighty State. It is as inhuman to be totally good as it is to be totally evil. The important thing is moral choice. Evil has to exist along with good, in order that moral choice may operate. Life is sustained by the grinding opposition of moral entities. This is what the television news is all about. Unfortunately there is so much original sin in us all that we find evil rather attractive. To devastate is easier and more spectacular than to create. We like to have the pants scared off us by visions of cosmic destruction. To sit down in a dull room and compose the Missa Solemnis or The Anatomy of Melancholy does not make headlines or news flashes. Unfortunately my little squib of a book was found attractive to many because it was as odorous as a crate full of bad eggs with the miasma of original sin.

It seems priggish or Pollyannaish to deny that my intention in writing the work was to titillate the nastier propensities of my readers. My own healthy inheritance of original sin comes out in the book and I enjoyed raping and ripping by proxy. It is the novelist's innate cowardice that makes him depute to imaginary personalities the sins that he is too cautious to commit for himself. But the book does also have a moral lesson, and it is the weary traditional one of the fundamental importance of moral choice. It is because this lesson sticks out like a sore thumb that I tend to disparage The Clockwork Orange as a work to didactic to be artistic. It is not the novelist's job to preach; it is his duty to show. I have shown enough, though the curtain of an invented lingo gets in the way; another aspect of my cowardice. Nadsat, a Russified version of English, was meant to muffle the raw response we expect from pornography. It turns the book into a linguistic adventure. People preferred the film because they are scared, rightly, of language.

I don't think I have to remind readers what the title means. Clockwork Oranges don't exist, except in the speech of old Londoners. The image was a bizarre one, always used for a bizarre thing. "He's as queer as a clockwork orange" meant he was queer to the limit of queerness. It did not primarily denote homosexuality, though a queer, before restrictive legislation came in, was the tem used for a member of the inverted fraternity. Europeans who translated the title as Aramcia A Orologeria or Orange Mecanique could not understand its Cockney resonance and they assumed that it meant a hand grenade, a cheaper kind of explosive pineapple. I mean it to stand for the application of a mechanistic morality to a living organism oozing with juice and sweetness.

Readers of the 21st chapter must decide for themselves whether it enhances the book they presumably know or is really a discardable limb. I mean the book to end in this way, but my aesthetic judgment may have been faulty. Writers are rarely their own best critics, nor are critics. "Quod Scripsi Scripsi", said Pontius Pilate when he made Jesus Christ the King of the Jews. "What I have written I have written". We can destroy what we have written, but we cannot unwrite it. I leave what I have wrote with what Dr. Johnson called frigid indifference to the judgment of that .00000001 of the American population which cares about such things. Eat this sweetish segment or spit it out. You are free.

November 1986

Anthony Burgess

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Jockey......

..... woke up humming this tune, and have continued to do so throughout the day for no apparent reason.......

.... I suspect it's still a touch of jetlag, but hey, you just never know.....

...... I'm off to dig up "Raindogs" and see if I can find "Tango Till They're Sore" to sing myself to sleep to tonight......

.... I'm definitely in a Tom Waits mood......

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Clockwork....

.... overcast, rainy, thunderstormy day here, folks... and the jungle that surrounds The Compound here has been washed clean and is shiny...... I've spent a few hours this afternoon sorting through yet more photos of The Auld Country.....

... so, now, in completely random fashion, away we go....

... here's a in motion shot of the infamous Glasgow subway system.... the original "clockwork orange".... the smell is quite amazing, really.... an unusual mixture of mold, mildew, and transient Scottish people..... you truly have to visit to completely understand.....

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... we also took advantage of our being in Glasgow to visit the Art Gallery and Museum at Kelvingrove.... it is a maze inside, but a GREAT place to get lost in when you fancy hiding from the rain for an afternoon..... and it also happens to be the home of one of my favorite paintings.... Rembrandt's Man in Armor.... here's a shot of the main atrium looking down from the third floor....

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.. and with that, I'm off to whip up a batch of stuffed strawberries for dessert tonight..... cointreau, confectioner's sugar, and cream cheese stuffed inside freshly chilled strawberries...... hell, they should more than make up for the fact that I'm making pork chops for dinner, no?.....

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Shots....

.... well, since I am back relatively unscathed by either harsh weather, overindulgence, OR volcanic eruptions, here are a few piccies of my latest misadventures......

... first up (and further to this post), I give you a few shots of the chalet that I tried to describe.... and, of course, the view from the veranda.....

.... the mountains and field....

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... the view down from the balcony (with my finger in foreground...) ....

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... the second floor of our chalet at Craigendarroch....

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.... I'll be updating this as I find the time today between laundry and napping.....

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Leaving....

...... strolled through Glasgow today in the rain, and loved it as always.......

.... and was reminded of a song that I hadn't heard in years, but will be acquiring the CD again very, very soon......

..... and so, I give you Chet Baker.......

..... with luck, I should be landing in Knoxville tomorrow evening at around 10:30 pm.......

..... big cities have their own way of doing things, I guess.... and Glasgow is the biggest city in Scotland...... I spent most of the evening being amazed by how many young lasses were walking up and down the rain-swept streets wearing mini-skirts, knee-boots, and patterned panty hose......

..... after having spent the past two weeks embedded in the countryside, it was a shock to see so many high heels clicking away all in one small place.....

.... in any case, I shall be back in the land of the soft-soled sneaker very, very shortly..... with any luck, that is.....

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Humor....

.... after a large Jura and a gigantic Chinese meal, I humbly offer you some Scottish Humor.......

...... bloody hell, aren't we all a bit like that from time to time?........

..... and really, we should be ashamed of ourselves........

..... still, though, it WAS quite funny....... even if you arent Scots at all, you should be able to see the angle Rev. Jolly is taking..... right?.....

... hmmm.... mebbe not....

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Misty....

..... the chalet is in the Scandinavian style.... bedrooms on the first floor, and kitchen/living room taking up the entirety of the second floor.... the second floor has a huge, high vaulted ceiling clad completely in stained fir boards..... a central beam runs along the ceiling and extends beyond the south-facing glass wall for about ten feet... and beyond the glass wall lies the verandah.... wood and glass and high, open space is the general feeling in this room where we spend most of our time....

... looking out through the glass wall, you see a row of adult Scots pines and the occasional skinny birch... a moss covered stone wall runs parallel to the trees and separates the civilization of the chalet from the open field that lies beyond.... grouse, rabbits, hooded crows, red squirrels, wood pigeons, and pheasants fill this space with a constant flow of movement..... walking onto the verandah gives one a kaleidoscope view of the wildlife - with the trees both blocking and revealing your view of the animals as they jostle for pecking-ground and airspace....

.... daffodils, dotted here and there, provide a contrast of color against the green and gray of the land and sky.... both yellow and white, they grow naturally in small clusters around the border of the field.....

... the bright green field extends two hundred yards or so, and bustles with life and activity.... damp this morning, it's springtime buds have halted their growth due to last night's cold snap.... and the view of the snowcapped mountains in the distance have been completely hidden by this morning's thick blanket low cloud and mist.....

.... a road runs alongside the field..... a turn to the left would take you to the village of Ballater... a turn to the right would take you further inland towards the ancient Celtic settlement of Braemar - famous for it's annual Scottish Highland Games....

... crossing the road, a steep, heavily wooded ravine falls 200 feet down to the peat-rich waters of the River Dee......

.... Scotland - especially on days like this - exudes an almost claustrophobic aura..... the chilly breeze sweeping down from the mountains seems somehow out of place underneath the heavy, impenetrable clouds and mist that hide the view of all but the closest countryside.... the air is dense and cold...... and the very faintest of rain is falling slowly...... the sky is a heavy, gray blanket that makes you want to kindle a fire, pour a whiskey, and barricade yourself inside until the sun returns...

.... they call Scotland the "Big Country" because of the extreme skylines she proudly displays - and the nickname is very well deserved..... but today, she is the "Small Country"..... quiet, cool, and brooding, she is hiding today....

..... thank goodness I am inside, dry, and have scotch coffee...

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Chili...

... a General Election is scheduled for today here in the UK, and half of our group is off down south to vote.... leavine myself and a few other slackers to arrange tonight's dinner at the chalet...... and so what would a group of hungry Scots need to warm their tummies after a hard day at the polling booths?.... why, a hearty bowl full of my homemade chili, white rices, and buttery slabs of warm garlic bread, of course......

.... well, at least that is what I would have wanted after a day at the polls!.... and since I'm cheffing it today, well, that's what THEY are getting as well.....

.....two Rolaids and a glass of milk is currently slated in for dessert......

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Kildrummy

... made it safe and sound to the Auld Country in spite of enormous ash clouds & way-too-tight to catch-your-flight layovers......

... off to Kildrummy Castle Hotel for lunch and a pint....

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Vacating.....

... the time has arrived - once again - for me to jet off for a few days in Royal Deeside... the in-law's Hilton-run timeshare is calling..... we're then heading back to The Missus' hometown - Montrose - for a few days.... and then we're off for two nights in Glasgow before heading back to Tennessee....

.... so, y'all play nice, keep your powder dry, have fun, and remember not to feed the animals..... it's a jungle out there...

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