Thursday, February 25, 2016

William Myrl; Letter to No One (41)

Dear No One,
There was a movie on SYFY called Cloud Atlas. I know I am a few years behind, but you are going to have to live with it. The premise of the movie is simple, trace a love affair through multiple incarnations in time. Its the sort of thing that looks good on paper. They used the same actors in all seven or so incarnations, playing different parts, and the makeup required bordered on the comical. The worst job was when they turned an Asian girl into a Caucasian redhead. They shoved her face first into the uncanny valley and left her to die. Poor thing. I cringed. Most of the rest was the sort of transformation you could expect to see on SYFY's original series Face Off. I can only imagine how much money was lost on this film. Those people who were responsible for the Matrix put it all together. The siblings.
The theme of the film was naturally love's transcendence over all, including time and space. The appeal of reincarnation has always been lost on me. If the only real connection between your lives is the author's insistence on their connection, there isn't much there. Yes, all the stories were love stories, but most stories are. It doesn't become more meaningful because you arbitrarily declare that a given set of stories is all about the same souls wandering through lifecycles. The stories themselves are left unchanged. The continuity of self exists in memory, both our own and those of others, as well as the record of reality, which is usually ignored.
These characters don't know they are connected, nor do the characters around them. In reality, there is no record of their connection. But for the sake of the movie the audience is asked to play the part of outsider memory. We are told these are the same people in different bodies, and we carry the burden of their shared existence from one iteration to the next. 
Perhaps my least favorite part of any movie is when the writers begin pretending to be wise. No speech was ever profound that contained the phrase "from womb to tomb", you do not get points for being as clever as a bumper sticker. This screenplay insisted on repeating a few bits of nice sounding nonsense about love and the interconnected nature of life in a tone of voice that we are supposed to interpret as being wise. It was decidedly disappointing.
At one point, Tom Hanks and Halley Berry are post apocalyptic cow pokes speaking in a broken patois reminiscent of Stephen King's Dark Tower series. I don't know why I torture myself.
Have you seen anything good lately? I did enjoy the recent movie about the lady who got Dan Rather fired by successfully exposing president Bush as being AWOL during his service as a pretend pilot for the national guard. 
William Myrl

William Myrl; Letters to No One (40)

Dear No One,
Remember Mean Girls? It was that brief , bright moment before Lindsey Lohan plummeted into fiery obscurity. Anyway, I am reminded of it by the behavior of some of my prison friends. Social dynamics are weird sometimes, and three of them have banded together against the fourth. They belittle him, threaten and occasionally cheat him, for reasons that are mostly imaginary. When I see them, they commiserate about his alleged douchery, talking about them behind their backs, "stirring shit." In truth, he looms much larger in their minds than they do in his, they spread rumors about him, and discuss him in a derogatory fashion, on an almost daily basis. He does talk about them to others, generally when they have just done something unfair to him. As would anyone. One of my favor tire phrases is, "why was my name in his mouth," because it is inevitably followed by shit talk about said person who had ones name in his mouth.
The victim is Mao, I can't remember if I've referred to him by that name before. He is legitimately annoying. He has a stale smell, due to his aversion to deodorant, and he has the bad habit of explaining things you already know in as protracted a fashion as possible. Mao can also be a flake. He has great artistic talent and sporadic motivation. His straightforward manner and pacifism are to the good, however, and he laughs often and with sincerity. I have known him peripherally for several years, and never felt animosity towards him. 
These other three feed hate to each other. They are my friends, I like them and enjoy their company, but for some reason Mao has become their scapegoat of all ills. The incidents, in and of themselves, are childish and uninteresting squabbles. Its very high school. If he has something they want, they resent him for it. Arguments usually start over games, because that is their common ground. Things escalate in a confusing fashion that clearly has nothing to do with the problems at hand.
I wish I knew what you wanted to hear about. I ramble on an on and seem to end in nowhere. If you have any topic ideas tell me.
I put in my application for the Washington and Lee University class this year. If I don't get in it is because of affirmative action. No kidding. The tailor shop has a ratio, the classes do as well.
William Myrl

William Myrl; Letters to No One (39)

Dear No One,
I would like to juxtapose two experiences for you. A few Fridays ago, I was privileged to enjoy the annual appreciation meal for shop workers. Their are two shops on this compound, the tailor shop and the shoe shop. If you'll recall, I am employed as a clerk in the former. The regulations governing the meal seem to vary from year to year, but one thing that they've settled on is that the kitchen has to be the place where the food is cooked, no outside source. I can but presume this is a means of ensuring a little gustatory graft. They caught someone on the boulevard with his pants full of pilfered chicken. It was real chicken by the way, I haven't had actual chicken meat in about five years. I would prefer that they just pay us more, but I won't complain about a free meal. The shops are set slightly apart from the rest of the compound, and they don't have quite the prison vibe that you find everywhere else. There is still the occasional strip search, naturally, but that is part of the appeal of the job. People take small things, office supplies, thread, needles, that's about it. 
I said I would contrast the appreciation meal with someone else. Fate did that for me. The next morning, at breakfast , I overheard people discussing a compound wide or even state wide piss test. They do drug tests all the time, both randomly and off of a hot list. I have been called up only once, and it was a less than delightful romp. You have two hours and two cups of water to give them a sample. If you don't, you go to jail (segregation), and are most likely given an institutional charge just as if you had failed the test. I have a shy bladder, and I came within minutes of not making the deadline. By lunchtime Saturday, it was pretty obvious we were being tested after count, around 2 O'Clock. So at eleven or so, I had my last pee, and I drank two and one half peanut butter jars of water between lunch and when they came in the pod around 2:30. It was uncomfortable, and I had to let off a little pressure before they got to my cell because my kidneys were hurting something fierce. I know that I am not going to be able to relax whatever muscle you have to relax to urinate, so my strategy is simple. If enough water is in my bladder, I can push it out. It isn't fun, and probably could damage my stuff if I made a habit of it, but what are you going to do? I fill up the cup in roughly twice the time it would have taken a normal person, and they move on. Victory. I missed library for this.
So there are my two stories for for this letter, I hope it makes more sense to you than it does me.

William Myrl 

William Myrl; Letters to No One (38)

I don't strongly associate with the word bipolar. Its the term they use now, but it isn't a realistic descriptor of an emotional spectrum. Manic depression is not diametric, there isn't a thermometer that runs from sparkle to fuliginous that you can read my mood on. If it has to be a two dimensional geometric concept I would choose a circle, but those don't really have poles. Thanks a lot, king Arthur,
I lead a strange life. They fired someone at work today, they have been getting meaner about people not looking busy lately. I think that the bosses honestly aren't capable of internalizing the context. They entertain the pretext that this is a real job, a two real factory, instead of a place where inmates make clothing for other inmates and receive slave wages in return. Though I should say, best slave wages on the compound. For sure. In an actually company, payroll is a big section of the budget. Riding the clock can be a serious issue. Here, the three people in the office individually make as much money as the seventy workers combined salaries. I've seen last years budget, and payroll was a laughable fraction of it, The shop did 1.2 million in business, and had a payroll outlay of sixty some thousand. We could all stay clocked in over the weekend and it wouldn't make a difference. I'm not mad at them, I just want to make note of the absurdity,
I got a response back from the education secretary about the impending college class. Details will be posted in the pods when they are finalized. Not really helpful, but at least its confirmation that it is happening. I'm daydreaming about it while I fold pants and clip excess strings from bar-tacks and hems.
I'm actually in a relatively good place now. I'm busy, and I don't have any serious problems with my celly even though we'all never be true friends. Its odd, the things we don't have juxtaposed with the things we do. I'm thumb typing on a touchscreen right now, listening to drunken love, but I don't have a room to myself, or a non plastic chair, or tape of any kind. If you want tape here you have to steal it. It makes some art projects difficult, at you can get lucky and peel strips of scotch off of your mail when they give it to you. It all gets fondled, remember, and then they staple or tape the envelope shut again. Sometimes both, for whatever reason,
Now its Adele, someone like you.
What does manic depression mean to me? It means eating your mermaid, and not having her too.

William Myrl Smitherman 

William Myrl; Letters to No One (37)

Dear No One,
I have been terribly lax in communicating with you. The last letter I typed wasn't sent because of a computer issue, that issue being a new generation of music players. The illustrious jp4 has been replaced with the brilliantly nominated jp5, and during the transition I lost six emails, but overall I am pleased with the change. It is much easier to type now, though the system came equipped with a delightful bug that will erase messages as you type them, it took me about seven tries to figure that one out.
So let me update you on my life. They are doing the Washington and Lee class again, and this years topic is "Freedom and Unfreedom". They have issued invitations to last years participants, but many of them have received charges within the window that makes them ineligible. Hopefully they will be opening the application. process soon to fill the four or five empty slots. Last year, as you may recall, I submitted a catty poem that I fear was not taken seriously. This year, I am going to make every effort to take part in the class.
I am designing and play-testing a board game, a bridge between Risk and Warhammer based in my Mythopoeiac cosmos. The process is a lot of fun, and I have four players at the moment who've been along for most of the ride. Ender pretends to be miffed because I suggested we make a game collaboratively and then did it all myself, but truly, things don't get done unless I do them. Now he's basing a game of his own on my system, so we may have two to play if he ever gets around to making a real effort. 
This morning I listened to an older gentleman retell how he was stabbed in the ear with a fork. It happened in the chow hall, when a young man informed him he could have taken his breakfast sausages if he had wanted to. The fellow replied that the only thing he could take was a little boys butt, at which point he turned around and was promptly stabbed in the ear. A tussle ensued, broken up by the police, as such things are. Because the pods mingle in the chow hall it is prime fighting real estate. In any case, I have no doubt of the general veracity of the tale, because there is nothing in it that is outrageous to me. I find that that, in itself, is slightly outrageous.

William Myrl