Nov 21, 2016

Another Big Bang

There's this big hippie dude, see, strolling a side street in empty Lodi, California.  Big hair down to his waist,  wearing a gimme cap and a cool-message tee. "I gave up sex and drinking and it was the scariest 30 minutes of my life."

That is how it was according to Stephen King as he wrote about life in America after the super-flu wiped out some 99 out of every 100.

In a little house along that street lived Irma Fayette, 26 and virginal and a people hater. She particularly hated men because they would rape her. Her mother told her so, and she had spent most of her 26 years worrying and worrying about the evil-deed horror, possibly over and over in great clinical detail. 

Part of Mama's sex problem was her ex-husband. He was possibly also Irma's daddy, a sailor who planted a seed in Ma's garden and weighed anchor instead of hanging around to nurture.

Barnacle Bill is necessary to Mr. King's narrative because he left a trunk behind, stored for ages in Irma's attic.

She picked through it and found  a nice box with little brass hinges containing  "...a gun . A .45 calibre pistol. It lay on red velvet, and in a secret compartment below the red velvet were some bullets ...  green and mossy looking, but Irma thought they would work all right. Bullets were metal. They didn't spoil like milk or cheese. "

So she was armed when Mr. Hippie passed her porch, saw prey, and staggered her way.

"Irma pulled the trigger. The pistol exploded, killing her instantly."


Now see here, Stephen. That might have happened, but it almost certainly didn't. Far more likely, the pistol went click and Irma was soon suffering the fate worse than death. 

I've often thought a serious gun guy could earn a little side income editing firearms references. He could have advised Mr. King that "cartridges" was the term he was actually looking for  and that ancient cartridges don't get magically stronger. More likely their chemical contents weaken, if anything. 

Furthermore, while it is quite possible to make a pistol "explode" in one way or another,  I doubt that any shooter, ever, instantly killed himself. (Herself in the case of the unfulfilled Irma.) We see bloody   hands, faces full of powder burns and metal bits, smashed eyeballs, but hardly ever -- maybe never -- do we see instant death.


I like Stephen King anyway, and maybe this little piece is just an excuse  to say so. Allow me to repeat,  along with many before me,  that I wish he worked a little less in horror and a little more with straightforward stuff that doesn't  require so massive a suspension of your disbelief.  For instance as in "The Body" (his novella which became "Stand By Me"  when the movie ignoramuses got their slimy paws on it).

Never mind. I rarely reread King, but sometimes I'm drawn back solely by his power  to create characters who charm --or the absolute reverse -- readers. When King introduces a human player you know this character is going to engage your interest and your emotions. I know no one who does it better except John D. McDonald. I give him the edge because he could do it in sharper terms with fewer words.


We're awaiting an overnight strike of winter misery, so I decided to escape reality by leafing through  the monster edition of "The Stand," the 1153-page complete edition. Its blurb says it is "uncut." No shit Sam Spade? What gave you your first clue?  Maybe the three-inch shelf-width? (The Irma tale is on page 352.)

I may do something like this again. Stephen is sloppy on guns, and cosmic rulers require all of us gun experts to point out and dilate on the tiniest  departure from technical firearms truth.

Until now I have been doing it only with my silenced revolver.

Oct 17, 2016

The American Community Snoop

A sterling citizen for whom I have great affection opened his American Community Survey packet this morning. He demonstrated his sterlingness by actually reading questions and penciling in answers for two or three pages.

Then the sorry SOB looked into the mirror of his sterling soul and saw tarnish.   File 13.

The Constitution grants Washington the power to enumerate him, so there he stands,  hand dutifully up for easier counting,  giving the federal snoopers a pass on the Article One specification that he is subject to forced enumeration only once per decade, not at any over-secretion of the enumerators' window-peeping glands.

He decided that the demanded details of his life -- personal, professional, social, and financial -- were (1) an identity thief's dream and (b)  a facilitator for further nanny-state bungling and (3)  a violation of  Article 4 of the Bill of Rights.

He was unimpressed with:  "TheCensus Bureau is required by to keep your answers confidential." Perhaps that is because, on reading that, something reminded him of Lois Lerner who also pledged to obey the the law while in the employ of another federal tentacle required to observe strict standards of confidentiality.

Sep 26, 2016

The television set, a cheap 19-inch flat screen, lives in my closet. It was last mated with 110 volts and a coaxial cable in January when it seemed a good idea to watch the State of the Union address, just to fact-check my opinion that  he is still in over his head; still nothing more than the almost accidental by-product of Chicago machine politics; still wedded to the narcissistic notion that the unicorns speak wisdom and speak only through himself? (Yes.)

And tonight the debate.  Should a citizen drag out his electric teevee, plug it in, and blow the dust off in order to witness our latest shitstorm of demagogy as it happens?

In a way it seems a waste. The winners are predetermined. Trump for those citizens wedded to the  Fox News school of journalism; Clinton for the special snowflakes suckled by MSNBC.

I believe nothing tonight will change the poll trends unless one of the stooges does an amazingly obvious pratfall. The she-thing, under pressure, might well slip into another foot-stomping door slam (what difference yada yada) The he (with a rolled up sock in his shorts?) is not beyond demanding an immediate declaration of war against China or South Ossetia or something because they're rapists.

N.B -- I think any disaster is more likely to happen to Trump.  His mouth still seems free of any restraint. Hillary's tongue lately is tightly leashed to her handlers and their focus groups.

Right now, my propensity is to leave the teevee where it is. If I feel the need for a cleanout, I think there's a partial pack of Ex-Lax still in the medicine cabinet. But maybe not. We'll see.

Sep 15, 2016

Toy Guns

A 13-year-old kid with an airsoft gun takes a police bullet and your heart breaks. Then your head takes over and wonders what the Hell is up with the adults in this boy's life.

Is it all that hard to plant the simple message  in a young skull that if you start waving a toy gun around,  some people are quite reasonably going to think it's a real one. And get scared. And shoot you.  Did anyone ever tell him so?

I put myself in the cop's place. While I like to think I'd have been been quicker to analyze and decide nothing lethal was needed, I am not all sure I could have.

It's getting getting dark. The dispatcher sent me to check out an armed robbery. The neighborhood isn't exactly a Norman Rockwell scene. My suspect ran into an alley and I saw his gun, a dead ringer for a Glock. And I wanted to go home under my own power at shift's end. Wife.  Kids.

The finer points can and will be debated in and out of the media, the courts, the demonstrations to the tune of millions of words, and eventually we may have some vague idea of what actually happened.

Now, the first police reports suggest the lad and an older chum did use the fake pistol to rob somebody. Maybe he was on the fast track to violent adult thuggery. Maybe not. None of that is the point, which is, dammit, don't waggle guns at cops. Real ones. Fake ones.  If you do, you're very likely to die.

Why don't you have a little talk with your kids tonight?