The Mustard Man
"Aaaah!" screams a distressed citizen of Wienerville one warm Spring afternoon on the plaza. "Aaah! Someone save me! Ketchup Man put ketchup on my hot dog when I didn't want ketchup on my hot dog!"
"Have no fear!" The victim and all of the other citizens in the area turn there heads to the heroic voice that came out of the blue. "It is I, Mustard Man!"
Mustard Man steps out past a crowd of Wienerville denizens and stands defiantly against the evil that so often plagues Wienerville, the dastardly deeds of Ketchup Man! Mustard Man is seen sporting his custom mustard yellow spandex supersuit, his cape, the greenish yellow color of dried mustard, flapping alongside the American flag atop the roof of the hot dog vendor close-by.
Mustard Man turns to the poor young woman with the defiled hot dog. "Where did Ketchup Man go, miss?"
"He went thataway, Mister Mustard Man sir!" replies the damsel pointing past the statue of Wienerville's sports mascot William Wiener standing at the center of the plaza, whose right pointer finger points always up to the heavens.
"I will deal with him!" says the Mustard Man. "But first..." He smacks the blasphemous hot dog out of the woman's hand, reaches into his back pocket for some cash, and buys the woman a new hot dog in a bun from the vendor, handing it to her. Mustard Man then whips his hands out in front of him, aiming for the woman's hot dog in her hands, and booms, "Behold! I can squirt ungodly amounts of mustard out of my hands!" And ungodly amounts of mustard squirts out of his hands, engulfing the hot dog and the woman with the delectable condiment.
"Gee, thanks Mustard Man!" chirps the woman, and Mustard Man gives her his traditional quick salute and bow before running toward the direction Ketchup Man fled from his crime.
After a minute of searching, Mustard Man finds Ketchup Man harassing a boy and his hot dog in a back alley.
"Stop right there, Catsup Man!" says Mustard Man, his clenched fists at his hips.
"Curses!" Ketchup Man shrieks. "You know full well my name is Ketchup Man, Mustard Man!" Ketchup Man shoots ketchup at Mustard Man, pushing the boy and his hot dog out of the way, but Mustard Man dodges, rolling to the side and countering Ketchup Man's attack with his own volley of mustard. Ketchup Man ducks under the torrent of yellow and performs a kneeling tornado spin, squirting ketchup in a wide vortex, but Mustard Man jumps over the radial wave of red, somersaulting and then unleashing a double-handed powerbeam of mustard with a righteous roar.
The alley in which Mustard Man and Ketchup Man were having their duel soon becomes utterly caked with mustard and ketchup. The sound of their mortal conflict thundering throughout Wienerville, a girl of six years of age in a distant house off in the suburbs of the city asks her mother what that frightening noise is, hugging her mother's leg for comfort.
"Why," says the mother as she washes the dishes in the kitchen, "that is the sound of two gods of opposing ideals battling it out in our fragile mortal realm. It is Mustard Man and Ma- Ketchup Man."
"Why must they always fight?" asks the girl, nuzzling the mother's leg.
"They must fight because it is the only way the conflict between the forces of good and evil can come to a resolution. Good and evil cannot coexist without friction, and so Mustard Man and Ketchup Man must battle until only one remains standing... or until both succumb to mutual destruction."
"Can't they both just get along? Ketchup Man isn't all evil, is he?"
"No, I don't think Ketchup Man is all evil, but because he represents the force of evil and therefore the force that is in the way of good spreading throughout the whole world, Ketchup Man may have to die to make way for good, if Mustard Man wins the fight. It doesn't matter if he has some good in him. He chose his path of ketchupy evil. But if there is a way for Mustard Man and Ketchup Man to make peace, it will be up to Mustard Man to somehow appeal to that small piece of good within Ketchup Man, and maybe, just maybe, we'll see a future where mustard and ketchup can coexist on a hot dog."
"I hope Mustard Man can make Ketchup Man good again," says the girl, nuzzling her mother's leg again.
"I hope so too, Katy... I hope so too..." sighs the mother, looking off into the distance through the window, tears welling up in her eyes.
Mustard Man and Ketchup Man are standing opposite each other, gasping in exhaustion, mustard and ketchup filling the alley up to the middle of their shins.
"This can only... end one way,... Ketchup Man!" says Mustard Man between gasps. They had been fighting for approximately ten minutes, and having only ceased fire just a moment ago, the two adversaries just notice a splashing noise in the corner of the alley that has been going on for a while. They both look over to find the boy Ketchup Man had been harassing earlier thrashing frantically in the lake of yellow and red. He is drowning!
Without hesitation, Mustard Man swan dives into the ten-inch-deep pool of mustard and ketchup. He grabs the boy and swims to the surface just before he runs out of air, heaving the boy onto the dry top of a dumpster.
"Wait, where is your hot dog?" asks the drenched Mustard Man with deep concern. The boy holds up the hot dog triumphantly. "Oh, thank God."
As he carries the boy out of the alley, Mustard Man looks back at Ketchup Man, wondering why he hasn't been trying to attack him while he has been saving the child and his hot dog.
Once the boy ran off out of sight, the hero quickly spins around and squirts a surprise ball of mustard from his palm. Caught off guard, Ketchup Man gets hit in the crotch by the attack, collapsing into the lake of condiments with a groan. It is a fatal blow.
Mustard Man hurries over to Ketchup Man's side. "Gah!" cries Ketchup Man in pain, coughing up red. "Agh, it's all... tingly."
"I know, buddy," murmurs Mustard Man. "Just take it easy." He holds Ketchup Man in his arms. They're both deep in mustard and ketchup.
Police sirens are heard approaching the scene.
"Why?" pleaded Mustard Man. "Why ketchup?"
Dusk has crept over Wienerville, filling the alley in growing darkness. The police approach. Streetlights throughout the city blink on. An evening wind howls.
"I just..." breathes Ketchup Man, "really like... ketchup..." His head slumps, but his eyes stay open. Mustard Man closes the eyelids.
"Me too, Matthew. Me too."
Crumpled towers fill out
the entirety of the horizon,
stacks of monotonic ink and
records of records of records of
The sun is a coffee mug stain
in the printer paper sky. No
windows, only cuts and calluses
on the fingers, only cuts and calluses
Turning pages--waves of the Mediocre
Ocean--under down-turned, half-lidded eyes
under fluorescent lights under endless
layers of cubicles for each Social Security number
As the days turn--a mark of the calendar--
there flies yesterday's and tomorrow's flock
of birds, like check marks. Manila folder
graves darken upon the filing of the sun.
Humankind experiences the most suffering due to its hypersensitivity to its existence and the indifference the universe regards this existence. It is because of this that humans are most like ferocious, abused, rabid dogs more than any other animal. Though the universe is a negligent master, it is humankind's own self-abuse because of this negligence that makes us so feral.
The Damnation of Little Robbie
1. Upon the sixth day after the autumnal equinox, Robbie, nigh on four years of age, sat upon his car seat for the visit of Grandmother Judith. His mother Lilith steered the mighty Prius for twenty-two minutes and fifty-eight seconds as his father Abraham sat within the passenger's seat basking in the Lord's everlasting Light and playing Candy Crush on his cellular device.
2. Robbie and his mother and father gained passage to Grandmother Judith's domain and wiped their dirtied feet upon her welcome mat which said unto them, "Bless all who enter here." Grandmother Judith graced her pious family with chocolate cookies which the family did partake, but not enough to perform the sin of Gluttony. Lilith did bestow her mother with a thank you for her gift of delectable sustenance, but Abraham did not, and Judith did strike a righteous blow unto the head of Abraham for his ungratefulness, and he did weep upon his punishment and transgression like a child. Robbie however did thank his grandmother upon the behest of his mother Lilith.
3. As Judith led Lilith and Abraham to the living room to converse of God's divine glory and pray upon their unworthiness of the Lord's forgiveness for Man's sins, Robbie did linger within the kitchen, and lo! he did bite into another cookie of righteousness thereby sinning the sin of Gluttony.
4. And damnation did crack the sky, and the earth beneath the heretic Robbie's feet did tremble from the wrath of God. The ground rent, and the arms of demons did reach up from the deepest pits of Hell to grasp little Robbie's feet to plunge him into eternal suffering and fire.
5. And the heavens did sing the Word of the Lord by the holy choir of angels and the thundering of trumpets as the blasphemer screamed into the earth, the wound upon the ground then healing behind the wretch. May God smite all who sin against Him. Amen.
Dies irae, dies illa
Solvet saeclum in favilla,
teste David cum Sibylla.
Quantus tremor est futurus,
quando judex est venturus,
cuncta stricte discussurus!
How to Question Nothing
1. Clutch onto your initial beliefs and attitudes you learned from your friends and family while you were too young and stupid to wonder if they actually make sense.
2. Do whatever authority tells you. Think whatever authority tells you to think. Ignore troublesome examples of irresponsible and ignorant authority. If they say 2+2=5, then 2+2=5.
3. Bathe in the comfort of letting others think for you.
4. Be impossibly, infallibly, disgustingly happy, always. Nothing needs to be changed in your perfect little world.
5. Don't ever listen to others who have different opinions. Don't let them taint your perfect rank of perfect and correct opinions, beliefs, and attitudes.
6. Believe without fail that everyone else is wrong and you are right, with everything.
7. Disregard all evidence that contradicts your beliefs; the evidence is always from a poor source, a fabrication, simply and obviously erroneous, and/or any other excuse you can think of.
8. Reasoning and rationality be damned. Think with your gut.
9. Depend entirely on your in-group(s). With any and all out-groups: harm them, dehumanize them, belittle them, terrorize them, annihilate them, insult them, stomp on them, spit on them, kick them, hurt their families, burn down their houses, steal their property, fear them, assault them, brutalize them, laugh at them, rape them, take away all that they know and love: their values, their customs, their beliefs, their happiness; destroy their identities, decimate any memory of them, erase their very existence, kill them. Nothing shall taint your perfect little world.
Row row row down that
dark and winding stream
where the dead float bobbing
and where the wicked but dream.
Row row row past the
hanging heretics from trees
where once a light-seeker betook
himself on the water and breeze.
Row row row under the
pale moon, clouds, and stars
whose light casts phantoms
who keen from past scars.
Row row row boatman
on that whispering stream
where once you betook yourself
to go rowing among the bream.
Row row rowing down
to the stream mouth, the lake,
you slew the poor fishing village
just for sweet father pious's sake.
Row row row demon past
the carrion, blood, and creepers
your hands red when later you
hanged the leftover weepers.
Row row row boatman row
down the unending stream
where there is no light, only death
of the innocent, and the wicked's guilty scream.
Screen Black Playback
Fix your eyes, you say, pah, no difficulty there, screen not black yet, no, the music plays, it is about that time. Red, green, blue, all in a row, all in rows and columns, x's and y's, the z behind our heads, yet it is always from A to B, on a black grid on black. Gray bodies form circles, from afar they are points, A is B, B is C, A is C. There cannot be much to do here. Bah, the arrogance, the gray bodies spin and are still, two-dimensional looking above, three-dimensional folding in, four-dimensional a dream. Just a bad dream, a labyrinth, voices brim the space, pierced by the line, threaded through the playback, in the blank room, red light, moving, but stationary, where are we? The dream is blue, the dream is red, it is all different, the angles are infinite, it is all the same, three-dimensional, except for that one. Reverse, no it cannot be done, the playback is not real, and the firmament is blue, folding in, it is red. Peer through and fix your eyes, you say, no difficulty, no difficulty at all, unless it is black. The grey bodies wink, remnants to the playback, the flickering playback. Here comes the music, as if this is meant to be, no, it is all in the projector, that is me, no, it is in the projector, that is you. Blink, we are gone, reverse and it grinds, gone but here, gray bodies in a space within a space within an infinite space on the black line, the z behind the eye, fix your eyes, no it is useless. Feel and you spin, you sink, you drift in black on black, the black screen. Changing and unchanging, red, green, and blue, as the cipher swims, there in the nothing, a churning nothing, humming, in delirium.
Inspired by Samuel Beckett's "Imagination Dead Imagine"
It used to be that we got food just by finding some and eating it. Just by existing did we have the "authorization" to eat and survive. Now, in our imperfect, illusory "human world," we are only "authorized" to eat food if we have the proper amount of special paper and little metal discs to do so. In other words, we have to be worthy to get food and survive.
Not anymore is food available for all who need it, now people own food, and people are in control of the food people eat. Fine. So what determines a person's worth? It's a bunch of factors, most of which people are not in control over: where they grew up, which family they were born in, what school they went to, what country they were born in, the culture they were reared in, etc. Most people in poverty didn't choose to be in poverty. Most impoverished people aren't at fault for their lack of wealth. And they starve because they aren't worthy.
We don't own food. We don't own people.