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Good While It Lasted

In the space of less than a month I’ve gone from having a job I really enjoyed that paid amazingly, putting me on a sure path to slowly but surely climbing out of my debt hole, to working part-time for minimum wage at a fast-food outlet that sells baked potatoes. I feel fucking atrocious. For just a really, REALLY brief period I got this feeling that there was a bit more to life than compromise, suffering and obligation. Now I’m back to minimum wage.

I’m almost 30.

This phrase has been going through my head a lot lately. It haunts me. Every time I have to nervously check my balance before I pay rent (“You’re almost 30”). Every time I look through job listings and see “experience required” for anything besides washing dishes or telesales (“You’re almost 30”).

I have friends who have worked for Disney. I have friends who are making it as creatives. I have friends who have solid career plans, ambitions and savings. I have friends who own homes.

They deserve these things. They worked really hard for them. It feels like I’ve worked hard too, but that I didn’t work with any goal in mind so I’ve ended up with nothing.

I’m just circling the pan now. I’ll do some more job hunting, send out applications to jobs I don’t really want but hey that’s what I can get, and then tomorrow I’ll go back to work selling fussy-assed old bitches potatoes, simmering resentment of myself and my current situation in life hidden behind a wall of bright-eyed pleasantries. There are two physical spots in this job where you can walk out into the view of the customer, and next to both of them, where the customers can’t see, is an print out declaring:

SMILE. HELP THE CUSTOMER. LOVE THE CUSTOMER.

There is a stock image of a smiley-face above this horrific sentiment. I’d like to note that no satisfying or well paying job I’ve ever held actually demanded I suck the customer off.

I think if I haven’t achieved anything significant by 30 I’ll say “fuck it,” burn everything I own and go live on a fucking commune somewhere. We’ll shoot trespassers, cook meth and eventually die good, noble deaths under a hail of honourable gunfire loosed upon us by a score of US Marshals.

I just… I guess I really want one of those ‘good phases’ to start again soon, and I want it to actually last a while this time. That great job was like a really cruel taste of a much more enjoyable way of life. But hey-ho, back to scrabbling madly away from the cold, unflinching glare of strife and brutality.

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Media

Swindle of the Century

So what IS the Trump / Putin connection? So many theories. Sadly, I don’t put a tremendous amount of faith in the really tawdry stuff; the hookers, the pisstapes. Much as I’d like to savour the urinesque fragrance of these salacious rumours, this is my for-the-most-part-baseless gut-feeling about the whole thing:

Following the collapse of the USSR a small cabal of Russian and formerly Soviet industry figures and statesmen were about to become wealthy beyond imagining, almost overnight, through the privatisation of services and industries previously owned and operated by the state. This was all very back-room, skull-duggery, shady-shit, and doubtless an UNTOLD number of Russian journalists committed suicide on their way home from the supermarket during this time. Putin’s crackdown on oligarchs can in many ways been seen as taking out potential political rivals and successors, a consolidation of power.

Of course being crime-lords rather than true statesmen or captains of industry, these rascals buried their money in investments and banks all over the world.

Now, one of the nicest ways to launder dirty money and a lot of it is through high-end real-estate, and that’s where the Trump dynasty comes in.

Oh, and all the ‘adoption’ talks Trump Jr.’s been having with Russian diplomats? In 2009 a Russian journalist named Sergei Magnitsky was arrested while investigating corruption and financial fraud among Russian tax officials. I’m sure you can guess what happened; Magnitsky was beaten to death in prison.

The U.S. put the Magnitsky Act into effect afterwards, thereby preventing certain Russian oligarchs from entering the U.S. or using its banking system. The Russians, in the most petty retaliation ever, immediate put a freeze on any American family hoping to adopt a Russian child. There’s a fucking BUTTLOAD of orphans in Russia, so this was a pretty horrific humanitarian poker-chip to waggle around.

So when Trump Jr. mentions adoption talks with the Russians, that’s code for “we’re negotiating the repeal of sanctions put in place following human rights violations.”

We are living in the second series of True Detective, and I strongly suspect the villains are going to win again.

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Fiction

Rich Foreign Soil

The soil in Kerchetti Province is prized beyond imagining. Unparalleled in it’s fertility, it also gives off a marvellous fragrance when mixed with incense, and can also serve as a powerful disinfectant for poison, gangrene, burns and other flesh wounds. But there are rules to it’s importation and use: one must never ingest the soil, and under no circumstances must a notable amount of the soil be stored collectively outside the borders of Kerchetti.

Kerchetti Province has had many tenants who thought themselves masters. The land is harsh and unforgiving; trees bear little fruit and the spring winds often bring pestilence. Kerchetti has always been seen as a no-man’s land amidst nations that coveted the wealth and territory of their neighbours. The existence of Kerchetti forced an uneasy peace in the region; in order to invade a nation with anything worth taking, your armies had to cross the sands of Kerchetti. The very country itself seemed to resist the otherwise unstoppable momentum of the war machine. Your men would starve and wither. The locusts and gnats would keep them awake all night and bring the madness of sleep deprivation. The constant dust storms would rust the weapons and blind the cavalry. If your army was successful in passing into the nation they wished to seize, they would be in no state to conquer anything.

These historical examples couldn’t prevent various distant empires from attempting occupation, many of whom wished for a central foothold in the region. These imperial legions fared much worse; at least the locals knew of Kerchetti and it’s malevolence. They knew the old sayings which warned them from bringing war to Kerchetti: ‘Those who spill blood upon this earth shall remain to defend it even in death.

It had been some time since the last attempt at occupation. The memory of what awaits any army which marches on Kerchetti would fade in time for another tyrant to futilely attempt to lay siege to that immovable stretch of sand, soil, mountain and blood. The relative peace of the era permitted tentative trade with Kerchetti, and the rich earth of the land was valued tremendously highly.

But many chose to ignore the warnings of swarthy, inscrutable vendors. They purchased vast amounts of the soil, moving it from the small, ornate glass bottle it was sold in and decanting it in large containers and silos. In but a few days they would learn too late the cost of their arrogance.

It is said that Kerchetti province has seen blood run through it’s valleys to an apple’s depth. Locals, foreign invaders; they all bleed the same, and the thirst of Kerchetti’s wrathful soil is never slaked.

The homes and manors of many noblemen and ladies across the moneyed nations were subject to bizarre and total destruction. Explorers and collectors of rare curios, those who operated salons, spas and parlours frequented by women of high society were found torn to shreds, bled totally dry amid their smouldering, shattered homes and places of business.

Witnesses of these reavings eventually began to relay similar testimony: that the victim’s supply of Kerchetti soil had stirred and become animated. The soil had seemed to disobey natural laws, ascending into the air and whirling about at increasing speed, the arid grit sanding and scratching at surfaces, knocking things to the ground. Those who attempted to somehow accost the elemental force before them were enveloped in it, and were seen thrashing painfully amidst the storm before falling dead, covered in lacerations and with blood coming from their torn, dried lungs.

The soil storms would then seem to consolidate into humanoid forms, solid golems of soil, welding equally solid blades which seemed forged in the Kerchetti style. These homunculi of sand, soil and scorn would tear apart the homes, possessions and families of those who had, like vultures, picked and fed at the tatters of their homeland.

These occurrences would not be warning enough to dissuade the generals of future empires from marching on Kerchetti, and the blood of their sons would feed the next generation of bitterness, wrath and vendetta.

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Fiction

Fragments

The plane is spiralling. You try to grasp at the controls, but they’re slick with the pilot’s blood, alternating black and orange in the frenzied cockpit. You can’t see the pilot’s face, none of us can, but we assume they meant well when they brought us all up here. This must have been part of the plan. Was crashing part of the plan as well, or were we supposed to prove our worthiness of flight by taking the reigns of the journey they set us on?

*drift*

The sky is portentous; huge rolling white mountains of cloud, low and fast, moving across an otherwise unblemished amber twilight. ‘Revelations’ weather, everything drenched in eschatological anxiety. Stood facing the ocean, you look out to the fence about eight miles at sea. Sixteen white pylons stand rigid and foreboding. Occasionally a tongue of static discharge licks out across several of the towers.
We don’t know what the pylons are. Some have swum or sailed out to them, but none of them came back. The clouds continue to morph and stream above them, like a second angry shore. What are they protecting us from?

*drift*

The city pulses and you feel the electrified veins creep in through your nose, your mouth, in the spaces next to your eyes and everything below. Hard crystals of sugar-bright coloured sound cascade in fractals, immediately shattering and reforging into new hues and different shapes, an eternal and shrieking phoenix of burnout, reanimation and galvanisation ad nauseam.

Somewhere an engine bristles between your legs. Somewhere your lenses catch the glare of aggressive marketing. Somewhere you pass by heartbreak and providence. Somewhere the gutter flows up over your eyes. Somewhere the gate vibrates off it’s hinges. Somewhere the broken vagrants howl in wounded songs of enlightened defeat. Somewhere you see it all from above. Somewhere you feel it all crash down from above. It is all pervasive and ephemeral. It is the flicker of sunlight reflected in a blinking eyelash. It is the burning titan above.

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