Big Double Summer Vacation Issue

July 22nd & 29th, 2010

"Just look how polite I'm being!" the young man thought and secretly couldn't help smiling at his own behaviour.

Robert Walser


For sale: Roy Rogers paraphenalia. That is the Roy Rogers who used to sit behind me in Math. Two pencils, some partially chewed gum and an expired bus transfer. Sold as complete collection. $5 OBO. Box 46.
I am willing to trade this sentence for another of equal or greater value. Box 12.
For rent: studio space in my imaginary building. Ideal for conceptual work. Box 334.
For sale: Four Last Songs (Vier letzte Lieder) of Richard Strauss. For a smallish fee I will come and sing them to you in English using a funny voice. Complete with German accent. Box 9.
Think your life is going nowhere? How about this guy? "Performance artist" Glen Johnson will be running circles around the inside of aceart inc (2nd floor, 290 McDermot Avenue, Winnipeg) all afternoon July 28th. He'll also be writing "stories".
For sale: CD Prairie Zen Mastery by Garth Dawley's Emotional Grab Bag. Latest release by Headingley's punk/lounge thrill seekers. Combines the lyrical expression of Motorhead with the cool vibe of Burt Bacharach on E. Nobody rocks harder although many have tried. Box 34.
For Sale: Spanish Fly. Answers to the name of Pedro. More or less housebroken. $14 OBO. Reply directly to Parker Fysche c/o the PERSIFLAGE offices.
Wanted: any materials that could conceivably be used in an installation piece that will make me look cleverer than I actually am. Contact Rick Zargo, Boy Genius. Box 666.
For Sale: early drawings by Rick Zargo: something that looks like it might be a squirrel shaving his back (the squirrel's) 6" X 8", eyebrow pencil on paper towel; and a large piece (11" X 2'4") that is probably a giant muffin being shoved off a cliff by Ethel Merman disguised as a fire-fighter (honey-garlic sauce on old Valiant seat cushions). Offers accepted at Box 12.
Unattached garage seeks side by side for a little cozy mid-afternoon renovation and fall cleaning. Willing to consider duplex or multi-unit fun (you bring the condo) Reply to Box 459.
For Sale: One completely worn out pair of shoes. Their redeeming feature is their sparkling conversational wit which was the toast of two continents (Antarctica and South America Ė where they were much loved by the gauchos). $25 OBO. Reply to Box 23.
Will you be my John Lennon? Odd performance artist seeks musician to give up career and be househusband. Must have own funny little glasses. Reply Box 322.
Take out an ad in PERSIFLAGE! Increase your market by 3 or 4 not very discerning individuals! Only $10! Maximum 29 1/2 words.

The Mystery of the Lost Lenore

Listen to Part Sixty-Six

Click on the picture. (3:07)

Or start from the beginning.



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Life Is Not Fair

I am sorry if I am the first one to break it to you but life is not fair. It's true. Many times the undeserving are rewarded and the stalwart overlooked (I would like to wager a guess into which category you would place yourself). Terrible things happen to perfectly nice people and terrible people have nice lives. Take a look around. You'll see.

If you have been cognizant of the world around you at all thus far none of the above statements will come as a surprise. All aware and semi-aware folks, if they have not become deluded by some odd philosophy, can see this is true but the question remains: what is to be done about it?

The cynics amongst you will have shouted out "Not a damn thing!" right after reading that question but really, how helpful is that? One must have a plan for dealing with life's inequities and I believe I have stumbled upon a doozy.

The first thing to do is to make a list of the most egregious instances of unfairness of which you are personally aware. Things like: that idiot who got promoted ahead of you despite being completely incompetent; that girl who is dating the guy you like despite being a total flat out b***h. Things like that.

Now cut up that list into four equal pieces. Put each piece in a different hat. Now place each hat in a box and write the address of an MP, MLA, City Councillor, Elected Representative, King or powerful celebrity on the box and mail him or her the hat with these specific instructions.

On the day before Arbour Day this year (2010) take the hat out of the box, being very careful not to drop the bit of paper on the floor (or ground if you are outside). Place the hat on your head and sprint flat out for 185 metres (or the equivalent number of feet - I can't be bothered looking it up) whilst screaming "Life is unfair! Life is unfair! Especially to (insert your name here)!" then burn the hat.

Now doesn't it feel like you've done something about it?

Hugh Briss

Activity Reaches Alarming Levels

Okay, maybe I wouldn't have chosen that as a title left to my own devices. Alarming is too active a word for my taste. It implies some sort of running around panicking that I am simply not up for. But I do think we've all gotten just a little too busy for our own good. Isn't it time to sit down and relax a bit?

I am of the firm belief that before one rouses oneself from one's easy chair or bed, before one tosses (or perhaps I mean drops) the duvet to one side, places the Postum on the coaster and makes oneself erect, one should have thoroughly thought through the ramifications of so doing.

Why are you getting up? Is this thing that you are setting about, or setting in motion, really necessary? Will the world be significantly improved by your actions? Curing cancer? World peace? That's what I thought. Giambattista Vico, the great Italian philosopher believed it unwise to overburden "The Republic of Letters" with books as it was already creaking under the weight (and that was in the late 17th Century). Can you imagine what he would have to say about television? Surely we would all have been better off if the vast majority of those shows had never been made.

My point is that there are a lot of things that would be better left undone. Books better not written, movies better not filmed, plays better not mounted, relationships better not started, artworks better not undertaken, buildings better not erected, parties better not thrown, meals better not made and drinks better not consumed.

When did we, as a species, become so afraid of idleness? What's wrong with not doing anything? When I was younger my companions and I spent a fair bit of time avoiding activity. We shunned work and the engines of productivity. We tried to spend our time doing nothing but watching the world go by (there's a song about that I believe). It wasn't that there weren't things that we could have been doing. We wanted to be idle.

Idleness used to be considered a state desired by young people. Dolce far niente. And when one got older one looked forward to retirement. That glorious period of idling that preceded death. The only people who were stuck being busy were those saps in the middle. Busyness was a hot potato. Nowadays it seems that nobody, young or old can spend two minutes without doing something. How did that happen?

"Standing on the street corner waiting for no one is power" said Gregory Corso and he was right. What better feeling than having nothing to do and doing nothing? No, seriously what's better?

Elrose Watermuldar

Bernard and the Tense Situation

Bernard wondered if he was the only one who had noticed that the revolver was not loaded. He didn't know that much about guns but he had watched a police show or two and he knew the pistol held by the marten was not loaded. None of the fish were in any real danger. Plus Bernard doubted whether the ancient handgun would fire underwater anyway. If the fish could just delay long enough the marten would have to re-surface and then they could all just swim away.

Of course the little diver could not swim away. He couldn't even hide in the castle. He just stood there. He didn't seem frightened at this startling turn of events but then it was very hard to tell because his face was obscured by the diving helmet.

In all the time Bernard had known the little diver he had learned almost nothing about him. The diver never said a word. He just stood there bubbling. It was pretty unsocial but Bernard never held it against him. He was just an odd little quiet guy he thought. Now though, with the marten threatening them with a gun and with tensions running high, Bernard found the silent bubbling of the diver calming.

It was this calm that helped Bernard to take a minute to look around and assess the situation. This second look at things lead to his discovery that the marten was indeed using an unloaded revolver to threaten the fish in the tank.

That seemed very odd to Bernard. It seemed strange that the marten, a carnivore, and a fish eater at that, would jump into the tank, in an obvious attempt to get some fish for his dinner and yet be so completely unprepared?

But Bernard was the sort of fellow who liked to plan ahead. He was quite often early for appointments and such and if he was going away somewhere he had the habit of starting to pack days before. So the kind of unpreparedness signalled by showing up with an unloaded revolver was something he just couldn't fathom.

The marten was running out of oxygen. That was apparent. His little cheeks were really puffed up and his eyes were starting to bug out. He waved his revolver somewhat frantically. It was really too big for him. Nobody moved.

Bernard started to feel sorry for the marten. Clearly his plan was not working out. Bernard was reminded of the Al Pacino film "Dog Day Afternoon". None of the rest of the fish moved. Everyone, especially the little diver, just stayed where they were. There was no motion at all in the tank except for the bubbles of the diver and the very slight motion of fins shifting water over gills.

But the marten didn't have gills so he couldn't breathe underwater. All of sudden that became dramatically apparent as the little fellow dropped the big pistol and made for the surface as fast as he could. Whatever his plan had been he had obviously abandoned it.

Bernard looked over at the guppy named Earl whom he sort of knew and shrugged. Earl shrugged back. There was just no figuring it out.

C.F. Maynard

Interesting Things Happen From Time To Time

Elton Cronstahd-Lager was the kind of person you wouldn't notice if you passed him in the street (I would but I'm considerably more observant than you are). He was a man of average height and average weight and as to his looks, well, they were, you guessed it, average. Aside from his name he was average in almost every way (you'll notice I said almost - where did you think the story was coming from anyway?).

There was however one highly unusal thing about Elton (see, I told you). And that one thing was pretty damn strange. You see, interesting things happened to Elton. Not sort of interesting things, not mildly interesting things but interesting things. I guess you'd like an example.

Well, once, for no reason at all, a family of condors stole his car and drove it back to California (where they were from). If that's not strange then I don't know what is (and I do).

Now, over time Elton had adjusted to this little fact of his life, well, as much as it's possible to adjust to something as wildly unpredicatable as that. He took no real special precautions but he was constantly psychologically prepared for surprise. This made him not tense, as you might have imagined, but strangely relaxed. When at any possible moment an orangutan could leap out of your toothpaste tube or your socks turn into tiny dragons the only sustainable attitude really is one of resignation.

And so, one fine mild winter afternoon as a totally prepared and resigned Elton Cronstahd-Lager was strolling aimlessly down the avenue he was surprised when... nothing happened. This was exactly the kind of situation that was generally interrupted by something interesting happening and the fact that it hadnít was beginning to unnerve Elton. By early evening he was quite nervous and jittery (some of that might have been due to the four double lattes he drank that afternoon but nevermind).

His hands were shaking so badly he was unable to empty the Mr Noodle into the pot of boiling water for his dinner. Three-quarters of it ended up on the floor where the cat sniffed it and wandered on. Elton leaned back against the kitchen counter trembling uncontrollably.

Nothing happened.

H. Briss