April 23, 2006

Happy Birthday, William

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:38 pm by falstaff

Playwright, it is thus: thou alone hath ravished
Our mistress Language, though we all rehearsed
Our parts in her; thou alone hath lavished
Such finery upon her, as would make a rich purse
Of a poor man’s ear, and thus hung,
Has so won her to favour with thy trusted pen,
That she, once lost, is now forever won
And no man living need write again.

Thou art poet of the thundering mind
Of the wit’s lightning and the storms of woe –
The very weather of our art. We come behind,
Our hearts are wings, beating in thy shadow,
Lifted on thy winds, our voices are small.
Drenched in thy rain, we are not ashamed to fall.

William Shakespeare

Born (supposedly): 23rd April, 1564

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Rock, moss, stonecrop, iron, merds

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:40 am by falstaff

He is a ruined man who lives in an old house. The roof of his memories has fallen in. When it rains now the water pours down without mercy. The walls turn the colour of nostalgia. The floor shimmers, slick with images. Somewhere, a metal bucket rings with each drop, like a bell, calling out to no one.

Outside the earthworms are lifelines from which the hands have vanished. They stretch towards some impossible distance, exposed in their vulnerability. He is careful not to step on them. He is careful not to step in the puddles either, even though technically they are inside his house and he has a right. He walks across the floor of his ruined hall on tiptoe, trying not to get his shoes wet.

It seems to him that these puddles are there to mock him. In them he sees (or imagines he sees) a map of his dissolving life. In the old days he would have taken a mop and levelled out the odds. Now he no longer believes in justice, and lets the water collect the way it wants to, watching the stain of the puddle as it colonises the entire surface of the floor.

What little furniture he has has been pushed into the corners, drawn back against the wall. As though it were debris, salvaged from the wreck of some great ship. He opens his drawer for a change of underwear and finds a white film growing on all his clothes. It is the colour of his hair.

“These fragments I have shored against my ruins”, he thinks. Then cannot remember what comes next.

Small, green plants have cracked their way through his walls, even on the inside. He tries to weed them out but they are stubborn and their roots run deep. He lets them be, afraid of shaking the house to its foundations. A tendril of ivy trails from the roof like a chandelier.

He never goes out at night. Instead, he insists that the night come to him. When it’s clear out, he will sit for hours listening to the sky breathe. Clouds frost the pane of the darkness, the stars are condensation. The day is a sleeve that rubs everything clear.

Now that they have disconnected the electricity, there are no lights left to see by. He is glad. He lights candles instead, feeling a strange communion with these flames that ache so helplessly in the night. Their suffering contained but faithful, rising in twinges, always coming back from the brink of being extinguished. Just like the pain in his bones.

One day a letter arrives for him. It has been left out in the rain and the address has leached away until it is unreadable. So naturally the mailman assumes it is his. It is not. But he reads and rereads it anyway, feeling no guilt, grateful for the love the writer has sent, even though to someone else. Love is something he gets too little of now, like the bottles of milk that are no longer delivered.

Just an old man in a ruined house, waiting for the sun to come out. So he can finally get his shadows back.

Categories:

April 22, 2006

Everyone knows it’s really the mice, of course

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:13 am by falstaff

Went for a performance of a cabaret play [1] called I’m Nobody’s Lunch last night.

(Spoiler Warning)

It’s an interesting enough performance – offering you snapshots of what the performers claim are interviews with real people [2] talking about how we know what to believe in the post 9/11 world of government misinformation. How do we figure out the truth about the burning issues of our time: Were there ever WMDs in Iraq? Is Gitmo real? Are we really mind-controlled sex slaves of the CIA? Is Tom Cruise gay?

On the whole, I thought the premise was fascinating, and the show itself was amusing, if not exactly spectacular. There were certainly sections where my interest waned, but how can you not enjoy a performance that ends with a song comparing love to Schrodinger’s Cat?

At any rate. The reason I started to write this post was this: One of the central claims of the performance is that Earth is peopled by invisible alien beings called the Annanochi (sp?) who feed on the energy we generate and therefore must keep us in a constant state of panic in order to stay nourished. Our task as humans then, is to resist these creatures, and refuse to give in to our anxieties – thus proudly ensuring that we are nobody’s lunch.

Of course, the fact that this theory is propounded by an actor in lavender trousers who is playing a 10,000 year old alien from the Pleiades with a bad East European accent and insists on calling you ‘my boy’ is reason to be at least a little skeptical of it. But what intrigued me about the idea was this – if you really did live on a planet run by super intelligent beings who monitored and controlled every move you make, and they told you that things would turn out badly, shouldn’t you believe them? I mean, vested interests aside, isn’t it likely that they know what they’re talking about? And if they really are so keen on using our fear as snack food, isn’t trying to contradict them and argue that the world is not so bad after all, just an invitation for them to prove that no, the world actually is that bad, and there really IS reason to be afraid? If the theory is true, wouldn’t we be better off trying to convince these creatures to go on some sort of low-carb diet, something that makes them cut back on all this unsaturated terror they’re eating? Where’s Atkins when you need him? He’s just the man. After all, every time I go on a diet the pounds I end up shedding are invisible too.

Notes

[1] Before anyone gets too excited, the cabaret bit only means that it’s a variety show consisting of a bunch of unconnected scenes including songs, monologues and skits. Half-naked women slithering down poles are, unfortunately, not included.

[2] Although given the kind of paranoia that the play deals in, it’s only fitting that one questions the truth of this claim. Are there really people that wierd out there? Or did the company just make them up?

April 21, 2006

Write and Wrong

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:25 am by falstaff

Does it ever happen to you that you agree with what someone is saying, but the way they’re saying it makes you cringe and want to bludgeon them with a suitably blunt instrument?

Take this article in the Asian Sex Gazette by someone called Roshni Olivera that DesiPundit linked to recently [1]. It’s so incoherent, so poorly written, that despite the seriousness of the underlying message I couldn’t help laughing out loud reading it.

Look, obviously rape is a serious issue, and there is good reason to emphasise the need for consent to be explicit, not implied or assumed by some arbitrary standard. No is (or should be) No, irrespective of the victim’s past sexual record or the perpetrator’s beliefs about her willingness. So the two cases that Ms. Olivera points to in her article, both involving rape by ‘friends’ of the victim are serious crimes and deserve to be appropriately punished.

The article does sort of make this point, but its buried away under a lot of rambling obfuscation. In Ms. Olivera’s world view, apparently, “all such rape incidents highlight an issue that has been simmering for a while now – can’t a woman just be friends with a man?” Harry and Sally, meet Thelma and Louise. Let’s say, for the moment, that a man and woman can’t just be friends, that it always has to be sexual. Does that make the cases she talks about okay? No, right? So how is that the issue here? Ms. Olivera seems to recognise this too, and hastily switches back to the issue of consent (“even if there’s a bit of teasing bordering on flirtation, does it have to end up in bed?”), but it still leaves you wondering – would it have been too much to ask that she take the trouble to edit her own article? Has it occured to her that there might actually be a difference between a piece of writing and a rambling conversation with a friend? That putting down the first thing that comes into your more or less empty head is not the way to write a good thought-piece?

Where the article gets truly hilarious, though, is when Ms. Olivera decides to ‘investigate’ the causes for this malaise. She does this in two ways. First, she talks to the ‘experts’. They inform her that “The main issue is that men and women perceive things differently”. Ah, so that’s why. You would never have thought it, would you? No, no, we needed the EXPERTS to tell us this. There follows a lot of psycho-babble about ‘misconceptions’ that men have, drawn, one can only surmise, from the long, difficult hours the ‘expert’ has spent watching Hindi movies.

But Ms. Olivera is not content with this. No, as a true journalist, she feels the need to capture ‘public opinion’, which, as we all know from regular readings of the Onion, consists of stopping the first three half-wits you meet on the street and asking them for their ‘views’. This process, as always, yields deep insights, including:

“Some decades ago you wouldn’t find a girl and a guy having much interaction. Today, you have girls, even actresses, very open about their relationships. Times have changed. These kind of rape incidents, where a friend is the perpetrator, are appalling.”

Anyone care to explain how the sentences in that statement connect to each other. I’m particularly curious to understand the ‘girls, even actresses’ bit.

And wait, wait, it gets better. Just as you thought this whole date rape thing was a lost cause, Ms. Olivera manages to find the one right-thinking engineer who has practical suggestions to make:

“a girl should be smart and understand the guy’s intention. If he’s just a good friend, there’s no question of any sparks. If he’s flirting with the girl, she has to clearly set the boundaries. There has to be communication in these matters. And if it’s a guy who’s the kind to get drunk and misbehave, she should just dump him.”

Oh, wonderful. So now it’s the girl’s responsibility to be smart enough, is it? And never mind the possibility of being sent to jail for years, all we really need to stop people from raping their dates is the threat of being dumped. Why bother with police complaints, criminal trials, etc. when a simple break up will do?

Finally, Ms. Olivera pulls in yet another expert, a legal one this time, who informs us, drawing doubtless on his deep understanding of the sub-clauses of the law concerning rape “The law is always a little behind social trends, always trying to keep pace. Let’s hope for further strides now!”. Who would have known?

Never mind the ridiculous stereotyping. Never mind the fact that Ms. Olivera doesn’t seem to realise that opened quotation marks need to be closed. Did no one ever tell this woman when she was in school about the importance of a logical sequence of thought? Consider this:

“The main issue is that men and women perceive things differently, say experts. And in most of these cases the perpetrators are either teenagers or young men in their 20s or early 30s. “A girl might not suspect anything.

Can you imagine anything less coherent?

The kindest thing I can say about this article is that it might be a spoof, if an extremely subtle one. Somehow I doubt that. And I’m not convinced I’d appreciate spoofs written on so serious an issue anyway.

[1] Why anyone would be reading the Asian Sex Gazette in the first place is beyond me, of course. At least with the Bombay Times the ads are informative.

Categories:

April 19, 2006

Episode 1: Introducing The Beard

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:31 pm by falstaff

Continuing with the theme for the week – personal rambling inspired by previous posts:

In my fourth term at WIMWI, I grew a beard. Well, maybe I should phrase it differently. The thing is, when you tell someone you grew a beard they have this mental picture of some sort of exotic husbandry, of facial horticulture involving pomades and lotions and a snippily wielded pair of scissors. The image it conjures up is of some gentle gardener tending, night and day, his prized rose.

What really happened was this. Two weeks into fourth term I realised that I had taken on way too much work and decided that the one activity I could definitely do without was shaving. So razor and shaving foam were duly abandoned, and my fallow cheeks were left to grow wild.

The results were not pretty. There’s a scene in Wodehouse’s Joy in the Morning where Bertie’s Uncle has a secret meeting with some US tycoon (his name, if memory serves, is Chichester Clam) at a fancy dress ball, where said tycoon shows up disguised in a perfectly foul explosion of horsehair that he claims is a beard. Bertie’s Uncle, discussing the encounter afterwards, professes scepticism as to the historical accuracy of this disguise, arguing that no King of England could possibly have had a beard like that. Posses would have been gathered, strong men would have taken to arms to root out the evil.

No one actually proposed lynching me because of my beard, but grown men (and grown men from IITM at that – who you would think would be beyond disgust by now) were known to shudder at the sight of it, and there was marked tendency for most of the female population to blanch and turn deathly pale every time I passed by [1].

The trouble is, this only increased my attachment to the fungus. There’s something strangely satisfying about being able to creep up on an unsuspecting bystander and watch him or her cringe at the sight of your face. You can see why the Devil gets his kicks from this sort of thing. Plus there’s the thrill that comes with being perversely stubborn, of course, the strange sense of power that comes from rebelling against what everyone else wants.

Beyond a point, though, the beard began to take on a personality all its own. Soon it felt like I was walking around with a face behind my beard, like some prophet proclaiming a tangled and hirsute truth. By the time the mid-terms came around, the beard had its own e-mail id (it called itself, predictably enough, the Beard of Avon), its own special circle of drunken friends, even its own political opinions. How many times that term did I sit in class listening to the beard put some random CP that I totally disagreed with? How many times did I find myself dragged to some gujju pasta place when I’d much rather have been eating aloo paratha because the beard had this thing for exotic foods? [2]

Dealing with the trauma of seeing your face in the mirror every morning was difficult at first. [3] But pretty soon it was clear to even the meanest intelligence that the scruffiness of our reflection belonged entirely to the beard. You had only to look closely to see the lines of my real face, in all its classically handsome glory (damn! I swore I would type that with a straight face) behind all the wild abandon of the beard.

By the time the term ended it had got to the point where even I no longer recognised myself. I still have a VCD of our days at WIMWI that a batchmate made for us, in which I make a three second appearance making a presentation in class. The first time I saw that clip I turned to the person sitting next to me (also a batchmate) and wanted to know who that prof was, since I didn’t seem to remember taking a class with him.

My beard meanwhile, was rapidly acquiring the kind of cult status usually conferred only on B-grade slasher flicks. Those among my batchmates who were more classically inclined had taken to viewing me only with the use of a mirror, inspired, no doubt, by the exploits of Perseus. Meanwhile offers from leading museums the world over to include my humble little beard in exhibitions dealing with the macabre in contemporary art kept pouring in, and there was some talk of including my beard in a sub-clause of the latest draft of the Non Proliferation Treaty that India wouldn’t sign. When I flew home to Delhi at the end of the term, my flight was delayed by half an hour while anxious police searched again and again through my baggage, convinced that no one who looked like me could possibly not be a terrorist. As for my parents – well, they were there usual forgiving, forbearing selves, though you could see them eyeing the parents of other batchmates of mine wistfully, wondering how much they would take to exchange sons for the week.

As with all great art, Love was the downfall of my masterpiece, the kryptonite by which I was undone. I had every intention, when I went back home, of continuing to allow my beard its full and free expression, dreaming that someday my facial hair might be listed among the key crops of India, somewhere down there between saffron and banana nut. Except that my then girlfriend, in a move that would make Jeeves nod sagely, decreed that she would have nothing more to do with me unless I shaved the monstrosity off. (I am no longer with this woman, incidentally – how can you continue to date someone who won’t allow for your personal growth?). It was a tough decision, but I figured I could always grow the beard back once the relationship had come to its inevitable end, but no woman was ever going to be stupid enough to date me again, so the beard had to go. At the time I saw it as a bold, desperate gesture, not unlike Van Gogh’s in cutting off his ear, though maturer reflection has shown the the true cowardice of the deed.

Since then, every time the moon is full or Gillette comes out with ‘the revolutionary new concept in shaving’ (I mean seriously, what are they up to now – 12 blade razors or something?), I think about growing my beard back. The trouble is, I’m worried about how Bush and Co. will respond. They might decide I’m using my beard to hide WMDs. I don’t want to wake up one morning and have to comb Marines out of my beard.

Ah well, I guess I’ll just have to go on shaving. Think of it as my personal contribution to World Peace (Stockholm, are you listening?).

Notes

[1] And these were facchis (freshers) too – people I’d never spoken a word to – so it wasn’t about my personality.

[2] Okay, okay, so I’ve been reading too much Gogol. So shoot me. But only after you challenge me to a duel.

[3] Plus there was that inexplicably repeated nightmare about having my throat eaten away by a hedgehog.

Categories: ,

Wilbur Force

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:05 am by falstaff

The New York Times informs me that Richard Wilbur just won the $ 100,000 Ruth Lilly poetry prize.

The article then goes on to quote Christian Wiman, editor of Poetry, as saying:

“If you had to put all your money on one living poet whose work will be read in a hundred years, Richard Wilbur would be a good bet.”

Oh, come on. I mean, look, I like Wilbur and I’m happy he’s won, etc. but the one living poet who’ll survive? Wilbur? Really?

I’d go on about this but a) it’s two thirty in the morning and b) I realised I’ve already blogged about this greatest living poet thing. Here. And about Wilbur. Here.

Sigh. I’m becoming one of those people who don’t have conversations any more – they just point you to their blog and tell you to read their views.

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April 18, 2006

Down play

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:35 pm by falstaff

The post on play slaughter a couple of days back made me think of theatrical fiascos (in every sense of that term) that I personally have been part of. So here goes.

This dates back to my undergrad days. The dramatics society of my college (all 6 of us), in a bout of entirely misguided thespian optimism, had decided to participate in a one act play competition. The script chosen (and I swear I had NOTHING to do with this) was this thing called Sorry, Wrong Number which is, in fact, a radio play, but our ‘director’ only figured that out sometime around the second rehearsal, and besides we figured we might get points for innovativeness if we staged something originally written for radio [1].

This is how the play was supposed to end: after the Killer had abruptly cut the Old Lady off on the phone, the lights were to start to dim, creating an atmosphere of menace and foreboding. Once the room was almost completely dark, the Killer was to leave the phonebooth (where he had been since the beginning of the play; said phone booth being this massive contraption of cardboard and thermocol that we have cobbled together ourselves and were very proud of) walk down the steps on stage left, cross silently over through the audience to stage right, come up the steps there, his feet making an ominous clumping sound causing the Old Lady to start in panic and cry “Who’s there? Is there anyone there?”. The Killer was then to make his way across the stage to the Old Lady (who meanwhile remained oblivious of his presence) and crouch down behind a chair, waiting. Then, when he heard the distant sound of a train approaching, he was to leap up from behind his chair, knife raised, and stab the Old Lady to death, her screams being conveniently drowned out by the passing train. When the sound of the train faded, the Killer was to hear the telephone ringing, pick it up, and say “Sorry, Wrong Number” thus providing the ‘a-ha’ moment of the play and bringing it to its half frightening, half poignant end.

Got that? Right.

Here’s what actually happened [2]:

1. The lights didn’t dim, they simply blanked out. One minute we were on a perfectly well-lit stage, the next we were in absolute darkness. Cries of “It’s a power-breakdown!” “I wonder where they keep the candles?” were heard, before the audience (and we) realised this was meant to happen.

2. The Killer left the phone booth. Unfortunately, in doing so, he upset the delicate balance of the phone booth’s cardboard facade, which proceeded to come crashing down behind him. To the audience watching, it must have looked like an earthquake had hit the stage.

3. The stairs leading up to the stage turned out to be thickly carpeted and made of stone (unlike the wooden ones we were used to from rehearsal). So that despite the Killer’s most valiant attempts to stomp on them, he made no sound coming up. This did not faze the somewhat hearing impaired Old Lady though, who proceeded to start in impeccable panic and call out “Who’s there? Is there someone there?” in response to a sound that even the acutest ears couldn’t hear.

4. As the Killer crept stealthily up on the Old Lady, his feet accidentally snagged a loose wire running across the stage, which led to a lamp that we had jury rigged to make up for the lack of adequate number of spots. This lamp went flying, nearly doing the Killer’s job for him by decapitating the Old Lady (who ducked with surprising alacrity for someone of her advanced years), and smashing into the back of the stage with a resounding crash. Worse, the Killer himself stumbled and almost fell on stage, managing to steady himself only by clutching the chair that he was supposed to be hiding behind. The Old Lady, of course, remained unaware of the menace approaching her so clumsily, continuing to look aimlessly around in disquiet.

5. Back on his feet again, the Killer proceeded to crouch behind the chair and wait. And wait. And wait. But the sound of the train he was waiting for didn’t come. Finally, feeling the audience grow restive, the Killer acted with a violence of purpose only a desperate criminal would be capable of, leaping up from behind his chair and proceeding to stab the Old Lady, whose screams, clearly audible in the entire auditorium, left him entirely unmoved.

6. Gory deed done, the Killer then turned towards the phone, and without waiting for it to ring (on the theory that if the train did not come, the ringing phone must be even further behind) proceeded to pick it up and press it to his ear. At this strategic moment, however, the long awaited train did finally come crashing through, so that the crucial words of the denouement were drowned out by its roar. There then followed an awkward two minute silence while the Killer stared meaningfully at the audience and the audience stared back with equal seriousness (there were no curtains in this auditorium) before someone finally figured out that the play was over, and some desultory applause allowed the players to escape, having made their hasty bows.

Afterwards, the one person who came up to us to congratulate us on our performance turned out to be a Beckett fan. She went on and on about how we’d taken a melodramatic over-the-top penny fiction script, and by reducing it to physical farce managed to successfully bring out the essentially absurd nature of the human enterprise. We could only nod along in dumb agreement.

Notes

[1] This is less naive than it sounds. I remember going for a play reading contest at Hindu college, where all the other participants had come prepared with monologues / dialogues that they’d spent hours perfecting (Shylock’s ‘if you prick us do we not bleed’ speech was included, as I remember it, and a scene from Pygmalion, complete with accents). My approach to this contest (which I was completely unprepared for, and was only attending because my Macro-Eco class was deathly dull) was to go up on stage, deliver a thirty second encomium on the importance of spontaneity in theatre, and then proceed to solicit any script, at random, from anyone at all in the audience, that I would undertake to read (I think the one I finally ended up with was Beckett’s Mouth). Naturally, I won.

[2] Without attempting to defend the idiocy of our performance, it has to be said that because it was a contest, we never had the opportunity to rehearse on the stage we were performing on, so that the sound and light systems were wholly unfamiliar, and a number of things had to be adapted at the last minute.

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April 17, 2006

Fibs

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:45 pm by falstaff

A couple of people have sent me links talking about this new poetic form called fibs. Based on the Fibonacci sequence, fibs are 6 line, 20 syllable poems with the syllable counts going 1/1/2/3/5/8.

Now as most of you know, I’ve always been a sucker for challenges, plus this one actually combines math and poetry, so I couldn’t resist.

Here are my first few tries (warning: more might follow):

1.

The
fugue
begins,
spirals, dies.
On the other hand
the world expands, and cannot stop.

2.

Smell
of
omelettes
from vanished
kitchens; sunlight spills
over me, yellow as an egg.

3.

The
rose
opens.
Each petal
expanding into
as many more. Beauty arrives.

4.

Are
these
poems?
Yes. There are
things left unsaid in
them, there is fear of falling short.

5.

We
start
with a
syllable,
achieve line; perhaps,
if we are lucky, a poem.

One
word,
then two,
we follow
the sequence, hoping
that somehow it will all add up.

Me,
you:
adding
together,
line by shy line, all
our sad, seperate love poems.

Categories:

Sashimi

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:02 am by falstaff

Watching the hand’s transaction
at the deal table, it is hard to tell:

does the knife swipe through mackerel
clean as a credit card,

or is it the silver fish itself
that swipes the blade?

His raw hands cut the deck.
The flesh is dealt.

– Robin Robertson, ‘Itamai-San’

Poetry and raw fish. What more can one ask for?

Categories:

April 16, 2006

I know why the caged beard sings

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:52 am by falstaff

I never shave on weekends. Stocking up on groceries Friday night (my true intentions hidden behind a perfectly respectable 5 o clock shadow), I spend the next 48 hours locked away in my room, feeling myself grow pricklier and more stubborn in my solitude.

As my beard ripens, the mirror changes with it, grows older, darker. I feel as though I’m going back in time – way, way back – to an age before razors and self-image, when my ancestors roamed the wilderness and wore the foliage of Man proudly on their jowls. Beards were not artifice then, not some burlesque disguise that you tacked on to your cheeks, but a living organic part of the human face. Running my fingers along the line of my jaw, feeling it raw against my palm, I can’t help feeling that this beard of mine is a secret code, engraved under my skin by long ago cavemen, waiting to be deciphered.

What does it all mean? (Like Whitman, I wish I could translate these hints about the old beards and the new beards)

Sometimes I feel like I want to paint walls.

Sometimes I feel like I want to get drunk on cheap red wine and write like Hemingway.

Sometimes I feel like I want to throw stones at birds, only there are no birds in this city, only planes, and those are too far away.

Sometimes I feel like I want to be a hedgehog, bristling my spines at the world.

Sometimes I feel like I want to play long, groovy solos on a pedal guitar, losing myself in the minstrelsy of cocaine.

Sometimes I feel like I want to discover a new planet. Or Ginsberg.

Sometimes I feel like I want to write long free verse poems about the Revolution, and print them out on leaflets on some basement press and declaim them loudly at railway stations until the police come to arrest me.

(But what if they don’t come to arrest me?)

Sometimes I feel like I want to wear stained camouflage uniforms and a beret and live off the jungle with only the long, cool barrel of my rifle for company through those parching summer nights.

Sometimes I feel like I want to lock all the doors and windows of my apartment and just ROAR.

(Hail! Rintrah! Hail the perilous path and the hungry clouds! Every good library should possess a lion).

The book I am trying to read has hidden itself away under my bed. I crouch for hours on the floor trying to coax it out, but it only burrows deeper into the corner. Could it be that it is afraid of my beard? Can it not see that its words too are only stubble, grown over long, long years?

I know I’m pathetic, living out my prototypical neanderthal fantasy alone in my 15th floor apartment in the heart of urban America. But hey, these things grow on you. And I swear I’ll punch the first person who even thinks of mentioning the ‘concrete jungle’ on the nose.

Come Monday morning, I shall return to the reign of safety razors, my face shaved into neutral conformity. Having destroyed all the evidence of my weekend mutiny, having cleared myself of all its prickly charges, I shall lose myself easily in the commuter crowd.

And no one will ever know that underneath this mild-mannered exterior lives the ferocious, depraved intelligence known to barber-shops (and DC comic fans) everywhere as:

The Beard.

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