Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Milk'n Mah Degree

Anything that allows me to study the deviant nature of man is interesting. Tabloids, gossip sites, and history books are my go-to for human folly and spectacle.  While the first two only focus mainly on Bill Clinton's Plastic Surgery Nightmare! and Justin Bieber being a little bitch, history books actually mention things worth a damn. They give us powerful narratives of the human lives that came before us, and that edged mankind toward the present. As I'm currently drunk, bitter, and staring at stacks of mounting student loan debt, I thought I might share my shit-worthless degree and the resulting perspective with the world.

 Asano Naganori and Lord Kamei were two daimyo, or Japanese lords, whose prospects were looking up. They were about to play hosts to some officials of the shogun, the big-wig who ran Japan. These were powerful men who had a constant presence with what was essentially Japan's chief badass. All they had to do was learn court etiquette from a well-versed teacher, Kira Kozuke-no-Suke Yoshinaka, inside the shogun's home, and they were set for life.  There was only one problem.

Kira was an asshole. The sources vary on whether he straight up insulted them or merely didn't fulfill his duties as a teacher, but one thing was for certain: He was shitting all over the pair. While Asano was able to maintain his composure, Kamei planned to kill Kira. Luckily for Kamei, his servants knew that he was an unstable bastard and bribed the hell out of Kira. The teacher started actually treating Kamei with some measure of human dignity, and the debacle settled down.

At least on Kamei's side. Kira, noting that Asano hadn't left any unmarked bills in specified locations, ramped his asshattery up to eleven. It got to the point that Kira called Asano a "country boar," the medieval Japanese equivalent of "jive-ass motherfucker." Asano reacted like any rationale human being would at this point.

He drew a knife on Kira. The teacher's back was turned, but Asano wasn't about to let that keep him from fucking up the assassination. The first cut went across Kira's face. The second ended up missing entirely and plunging into an innocent wooden pillar. Lee Harvey Oswald this man was not, and he was soon restrained by guards. The shogun was left with a problem in his hands. Kira was a total knob, but Asano had drawn a weapon in the shogun's household. Like most typical Japanese mistakes, there was only one way to deal with the situation.

Lord Minamoto: Where is the coffee?
Squire Asano: I forgot to make it, my lord!
Lord Minamoto: Dammit, Asano! You have failed me for the last time!

It was a strange and magical era. 

Asano committed seppuku, or ritual suicide, spilling his entrails before being beheaded. The name of his house was tarnished, his land was divided up among neighboring daimyo, and his retainers became ronin, or masterless samurai. The ronin, like any recently unemployed workforce, were pissed. Their daimyo was dead, their jobs gone, and they were cast to the streets. One amongst them, Oishi, rose as a leader in their ranks. Oishi was obviously the right choice, as he proceeded to concoct a convoluted and bloody plan for revenge.

The ronin spent the next two years acting like they had moved on. Some became farmers, others blacksmiths. Oishi, for his part, got constantly wasted and banged hookers. All to lower Kira's guard, of course. Kira bought into Oishi's whoreishness and slowly grew content with the knowledge he gotten away scott-free. It was exactly what Oishi wanted. Some of his comrades, those who weren't busy doing blow or visiting donkey shows, had since taken up construction, and they had learned the layout of Kira's castle.

All the pieces had come together. Oishi only had to take one more step before he besieged Kira's castle. Oishi met with his wife of twenty years, an extraordinary woman who had stuck with him in the good and the bad, and turned a blind eye to his fallen behavior. He had kept his plan secret from even her, so worried was he for the success of his mission. It was time that Oishi repaid her for the years of devotion in the only way he could.

He divorced her. You see, Oishi operated by the ancient bushido code of "bros before hos." Energized by the sustenance of a woman's tears, Oishi led his men to storm Kira's castle in the dead of night. It was a thorough assault. One half attacked the front gates while the other crashed into the back. They even sent messengers to tell the neighbors that it was only Kira they were attacking, and not them. The neighbors, relieved that Kira's tyrannical hold of their homeowner's association was at an end, held a block party to celebrate. In the words of one premient historian, it was, "pretty ball'n."

Enemy after enemy was cut down before the fury of the ronin before the castle was silent. Well, silent aside from the weeping and wails of terrified women and children. Aside from them, the castle was pretty damned quiet. The ronin had triumphed over their enemy, and brought honor to their fallen lord.

Except for the fact they couldn't fucking find Kira. They looked in closets, behind screens, and even posted Craigslist ads ("47mlfm"). It was all for naught. Dawn was coming and their revenge was uncompleted. That is, until they saw a wall scroll fluttering in a windowless room.

Apparently Kira had planned for just such a homocidal contingency, and had a secret courtyard built. The ronin pushed past the scroll, kicked open the door to a shack in it, and found the elderly Kira trembling. Being Japanese, and thus overwhelmingly polite, Oishi fell to his knees before Kira and asked him to face death like a samurai. He offered Kira the dagger Asano had used to commit seppuku. Of course, Kira was speechless. He had been woken in the dead of night, watched most of his retainers die, and felt his pants get ten pounds heavier.  Oishi realized further entreaties were useless. With only one option left to him, Oishi bravely acted.

And proceeded to saw Kira's goddamned head off with the dagger.

The ronin left their enemy's castle victorious. As they moved across the countryside and back to their master's grave, they were invited by several households to feast. People were touched by their devotion to their master, their embodiment of the samurai spirit, and they fact they had taken out a notorious fuck. Oishi deposited Kira's head at their master's grave. They then awaited their fates.

The shogun was left in a bad spot, once again. These men evidently carried bushido in their hearts, but they had killed a court official, one of his most trusted men. He was trapped between admiration and law. It took time, deliberation, and the advice of able counselors before the shogun was able to come to a conclusion that was both just and fair.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Dangers of Mississippi

If the continental United States was a human body, Mississippi would be the balls.

It's moist, smells terrible, and you sure as hell don't want to see it in the light of day. The summers are sweltering, the winters are freezing, and the landscape more often than not reeks of chicken shit.  Sadly, that isn't even the worst of it. No, the land might try to break our spirits, but it's the flora and fauna that actively tries to maim our bodies and take our lives.

The world must know of our trials and tribulations. It must know the terrors that lurk at the ass end of the universe, if not for our sakes, at least for theirs. Who knows when (or why) you'll take a jaunt through Mississippi. Maybe you'll be visiting the Civil War battlefield of Vicksburg because, hey, you just love reminiscing about brutal conflicts that pitted brother against brother. Perhaps you'll be frequenting the fine Indian casinos of the Coast, because nothing says "I'm really sorry for centuries of genocide" like popping a coin in the slot. No matter the situation, you'll be minding your own business when tragedy strikes! With the information herein, you might just come out alive. You might just survive

The Dangers of Mississippi!

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

Except for the possum. Jesus Christ, what was He thinking? It was ugly, riddled with rabies, and... fuck! Creation was all a terrible mistake. God shortly held a conference on nixing his newfound pet project with Jack Daniels and his close associates, Smith & Wesson.

The earth barely escaped unscathed.

"Well, you look cute and cuddly, but... rabies."

You might say to me, "Justin, what are you talking about? Possums are downright cute! What could God possibly find wanting in them?"

"Jesus Christ, is it too late to pass on the rabies?"

You hear that? That's the sound of you shutting your goddamned mouth. Possums are terrible, hateful creatures that feast off of terror and despair. If you met a possum in a dark alley, it would hold you at knife-point screaming, "Your money or your life!" Of course, as possums lack the common decency to speak English, it would come across as random hisses and screeches. It would then probably bite you for not following its demands.

Fucking possums.

A year or two ago, I lived out in the country. As you probably know, country-living and trailers go hand-in-hand, so it's not hard to figure out where exactly I was living. The spaces were cramped, the air conditioning was sub-par, and we constantly heard scratching at the vents in the floor.

Something was living in them.

Our cat, Tery, would follow this unknown creature as it crept through the trailer. Like hell we could see anything, but she only had eyes and ears for it. Many a night she would fall asleep by one of the airways, as if waiting.

She didn't have to wait very fucking long. My mom screamed from the kitchen late one Friday night. Apparently a rat had poked its head out of the bottom of the fridge. That's all it took for the cat and I to come charging in like a dynamic duo, ready to kick ass, take names, and leave something maimed and/or dead. As I was looking for the critter, I laughed at her feminine squeamishness. It was only a rat! What did we have to fear from an overgrown cheese muncher? Stupid women!

It was then a white and gray head poked itself out from under the fridge.

I nearly shit my pants. The possum skittered back under, Tery scattered away, and I was left with a problem on my hands. How the fuck was I going to deal with a possum? Who the hell could even help us in this kind of situation? The brief eye-contact I had made with its beady eyes told me all I needed to know -- it wouldn't stop until my mother and me were dead, and my cat had been taken for its possum-wife. We scratched our heads, fretted over the options, and finally came to a consensus.  We went to the phone and called the only man who could handle such a dire emergency.

My Uncle Jerry. He didn't have nearly half the sense God gave a common dog, and I can't imagine he had anything past an eight-grade education -- basically, he was the perfect combatant for a possum. He wouldn't know to fear the bastard like good, sane folk might. He could tangle against the monster without the fear of rabies or the thing latching onto his face. Clad in jean overalls and enough hair to make Robin Williams feel feminine, he marched into the house.

"You want me to kill it?" he asked. It's here that I still curse my liberal education. I thought all animals were precious creatures, part of a delicate and beautiful balance. Who were we as men to dictate the fates of noble creatures? He stared at me with his bead eyes for a long moment, but finally nodded. He let my youthful innocence override his years of wisdom. The plan was simple, then.

We were going to move the fridge outside. I grabbed one side, he took the other, and Tery supervised from a corner. We grabbed the refridgerater and began navigating it for the door. One would push, the other would pull. We shoved corners, bumped entryways, and finally made it out into the fresh air of freedom. "Be free!" I shouted to the possom. "Go join your furry brethren!" I waved my arms eagerly to the treeline!
 Shit didn't happen. No matter how I coaxed, called, or pleaded, the possum didn't budge. Soon we resorted to a broom jabbing underneath the fridge. That worked as well as the begging. It was only when we got on our hands and knees, throwing caution to the wind, that we found the terrible truth.

The goddamned possum wasn't there. We ran around inside, checking under beds, around cabinets, underneath tables with the same result: Nothing. The possum had vanished from the face of the earth. I tried to coax Tery into action. If anyone could find that bastard, it would be the cat! Except she was too busy having 'nam flashbacks in her corner. As Tery recounted being pinned down in "the shit" by "Charlie," we gave up the search. The possum was gone.

The monster had won.

Maybe you'll be fortunate enough to never see a possum in your lifetime. It'll be a nightmare that stays at the edge of your perception, a bogeyman to frighten small children at bedtime. If you aren't, at least it probably won't break into your home in an insane attempt to murder you and everything that you hold dear. Should that remote possibility take place, however, remember my tale.

Also, buy a gun.