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Everything posted by bignosedcopperking

  1. The Libertine (2004)

    I thought Depp was wonderful. In terms of his character, I liked his intellect and his daring, and social independence. But you can't escape the obvious and dominant negative side of him. It does eventually became horrific. I doubt whether many of the more mature Objectivists on this forum can stomach it. It's not because they are mature but because they have better things to do than to see a series of events by which a man destroys his life. Jose Gainza.
  2. House (2004)

    This one is specifially for Stephen: I am genuinely curious if you can elaborate more on what disappoints you about House's more recent character and personality? What are some of the specific examples of his bad actions? I have noticed that he is aggressive, actually coming very close to violating another's rights. The blatant lying to get his way, bothers me sometimes. The only way to stomach it, is that we know that by the end of the show we will find out that it was for the better of the patient. It's as if all House is about is medicine, and that justifies any action now? It's as if he is accepting the unearned guilt from the system, stubborn patients, ambitious doctors, the legalities, etc., and will give up his soul to fight that, so that he can continue being a doctor, which is all he has left of life. But in reality, there are other things he can do, and still retain his moral integrity and his happiness, even in the field of medicine. House, the character, doesn't know this yet. Jose Gainza.
  3. House (2004)

    What I mean by "the show" is simply that the writers hold House as their hero, and the character who should win most of the battles, even if they need to include difficulties before he ultimately wins. But I suspect they love House. They may not succeed in portraying him correctly to be an Objectivist's ideal, or even to a Christian Evangelical, but I suspect that is their intention, i.e., their own ideal. If they don't see him as their hero then it will be very sad. Do they laugh at him? Are they amused by putting such an obnoxious freak on television? I don't know. If they do hold House as a hero, then what the policeman is doing is unjust. I think the cop's motivation is deeper than just where the thermometer ended up. It gave him the excuse to go after House full force. Given our governments's lack of funding to police departments, policemen have to constantly choose their battles and prioritize. I don't think charging House with drug possession is a priority, especially if he indeed needs them. If there are bigger and meaner fish to fry, i.e., criminals, then obsessively pursuing House is immoral. I sympathize with the cop, as I know that cops don't like to get touched PERIOD by civilians. To experience what House did to him would be intolerable. But note that he tripped House first, a vulnerable cripple. So House thinks he was right in doing what he did. All the rest stems from that. How far will the cop go, and how much will he destroy House? If he goes too far, then refusing to save the cop's life will be House's moral right. I don't think a doctor has a duty to treat and examine every patient. A doctor can refuse treatment to who ever he wants, especially his enemy. I don't think a doctor is a servant of any man. Now the cop would certainly be immoral if, let's say, he actually went into the examining room with the hopes of seducing House, and there is room in that scene to believe that for a moment. He would be immoral if that were the case, and he noticed immediately that he didn't stand a chance, and therefore, he would hurt the man who will obviously be rejecting him. But he bent to give House one last chance, to know what he might be missing. But House humiliated him. So now he will destroy House. Why didn't he just come out and say directly to House, "I've heard about you; you're a legend. I've seen you around; you're so cute. And I hope we can go drag racing together someday, and later we'll stroll through the park holding hands." Seeking to destroy House's career according to this scenario, and succeeding, would be unjust. House refusing to help him medically in this case, would be justice. However, yes I do recognize the idea of Objective Justice, i.e., it may just be the case that if House refuses to treat the cop, would be unjust according to reality. But even within the scope of Objective Justice, there must be a scenario in which a doctor would be just in refusing to cure his enemy. I think I've made it clear that I'm not talking about Objective Justice, but justice in the universe of the show, where I believe House to be the moral ideal of the writers. The only aspect of Objective Justice that I am using in my scenario is this idea: if you have judged a man as your enemy, then you should follow your mind, and not act to better his situation. There is more to the bigger concept, though. What else? Jose Gainza.
  4. House (2004)

    Another interesting aspect of the show to be discussed is the simple action of putting a police officer against a doctor, or the doctor against the cop. A good doctor against a bad cop is good plot, and vice versa. But what is more interesting is the good cop against the good policeman. In terms of action, it is easy to isolate being a good doctor and a good cop; it will be harder to make them be "good" in their respective professions, and yet clash morally--a bigger challenge. ....Doctors and cops are obvious essential professions for the survival a civilization, the more so as we move towards greater and greater levels of privacy. Jose Gainza.
  5. House (2004)

    I have not judged House's moral character enough because the show is mainly entertaining to me. I don't know the drug that House takes, I don't know how much his leg hurts, I don't know if he actually needs that much of it as opposed to losing his leg. And yes, House sometimes disappoints me, but only sometimes. I was speaking more from the context of House being the protagonist of the show. And I believe that the writers admire House as a moral hero. I believe the show is on the side of House as opposed to the cop. So if the cop wants to destroy House's career, and in effect destroy him, I believe that from the show's perspective the cop is unjust. Therefore, to have House refuse treatment to a person who has treated him unjustly is Justice from the House Moral Perspective. As a young man struggling with moral heroism within my soul, I can relate to a character like House, i.e., his negative aspects, since I was quite a different person before I discovered Ayn Rand; I believe I can project how a more mature Objectivist would be disappointed with how we have seen House since the beginning of this new season. Still loving HOUSE, Jose Gainza.
  6. House (2004)

    I think that Tritter actually is against House from a moral standpoint. According to his morality, House's morality and personality is evil. I think he's on a moral quest to stop men like House. Notice also that he is a good cop in the sense that he knows his job well. Therefore, if Tritter does take his morality seriously then it is not external forces that will interfere with House's career but another man's moral values. I don't think Tritter's moral status has been established yet. We may disagree with his values but if he's dedicated to his values, then he still shares in moral greatness, i.e., he is not a small man. So far I must give credit to a character who can inspire genuine fear on the face of House, which I can't recall anyone doing so far. Jose Gainza.
  7. House (2004)

    In regards to the gadgets: For example, I can picture Chase pretending to be deaf in one ear so tha the can carry a hearing aid, actually a transmitter, in which the voice of House will instruct him. Jose Gainza.
  8. House (2004)

    ... You see, The time period when the staff will be getting the secret answers to their legitimate patients' illness, is a time when the thrill of spy gadgets can be introduced into medicine. I imagine special pens, hi-tech watches, eyewear with cameras and listening devices, electronic communication gadgets, old-fashioned courier mail, etc. And if they can pull off making believable a sexy, fast sports car that can fly, and has missiles, I will be a very happy fan of the narcotic that is HOUSE. Jose Gainza.
  9. House (2004)

    This episode of HOUSE--Tuesday, November 7, 2006--was a very special one for me. It was the first one that made me experience fear. It was fear for the fate of DOCTOR House. Yes, the cop was right--if he speaks for the artistic context of the show as a drama--that HOUSE has gotten away with too much. It has been too easy, though that has been a major contributory aspect of the show's excitment. That his personality gets away with it, I mean. His talent and knowledge is not what I'm discussing in this paragraph. What the cop's persistence brings to the show's drama is a life or death situation for Gregory. What would he do without being able to practice medicine? For, that is what threatens House in this current period. Where does the cop get off in pretending that he knows what's best for Greg--master doctor--and the University Hospital! A man like House, today, maybe wrong indeed. (I'm no doctor). But the show does not believe that. This is what I want to see happen: The cop will win the first battle. Gregory will lose his license for a year. His best friend will still keep his license, despite his transgression. House is the important scapegoat. Until the time when House will not be allowed to practice, House will manage to live without his drug; perhaps with the help of his friends. But after, there will be a point where, unexpectedly to the show's fans, the cop will appear as a terminal patient. House will not save him. It will be Justice. The cop will have one year to live ... The Next Season: The hospital will secretely go to House for the answers to each case. This is in the midst of a new character, an obnoxious and small but educated foil to House. Somehow, House finally gets his supply of his drug. At the end of the season the cop finally sees that House is a great man. He pleads, pitifully, to House to save his life. House confronts him with the knowledge that he can. Will House save him or no? .... What do you think, folks?
  10. "Selfish" Sports Stars

    I just wanted to make a point. The "grandstander" has been put into the spotlight as part of the problem in a team's success. Jordan and Gretzky seem to be the ideal standard of leadership and excellence. When a man like these two are not on a team, and all a team has is a "selfish" talent, then the team suffers. I haven't paid attention to sports in many years and so I don't know what predominates. Is it possible that a leading player on a team, who may often seem like he's playing for prestige, seems like a hog, because his team is not pulling their own weight, and so he has to do it. Perhaps, pulling the team up to his level has become boring, and he may recognize that it was someone else's job to give him better players to work with, and so he decides to have fun playing the game he loves, instead of being the team's philanthropic benefactor. In business this phenomenon seems to be common, in the context that it is not unusual to find a great businessman who is constantly pressured to go on strike (a la Atlas Shrugged). Could the same phenomenon occur in Sports? Is Sports so specialized and artificial an industry that the same type of psychologies hardly ever attempt to bring down the great ones? Jose Gainza.
  11. "Selfish" Sports Stars

    Me too ... Because if one were to say so in the locker room it will immediately get your teammates to think about the issue; they will become immediately on the philosophical level if they grasp the idea at all. Jose Gainza.
  12. "Selfish" Sports Stars

    I'm glad you raised this issue. I've been thinking about similar things lately for a story about soccer that I've had, too bad, on the back-burner for too long. In hindsight it seems that being a selfish player of the team is what "forced" me to postpone the writing. Yes, "Just for once ..." -- how very special that would be! How about at the Oscars! There's another story stored away in me waiting to be born ... Jose Gainza.
  13. The Poetry Of Brian Faulkner

    These last two basketball poems were quite enjoyable, not only because they are good and thematically original, but because they represent an interesting coincidence, and will help me in a way. The other day I was thinking about this same issue in prose fiction, and in the context of another ball sport. The idea is to show morality and particular virtues in the actions of a particular sports game, playing with those ideas later, when the real story unfolds. Keep it up, Magic! Jose Gainza.
  14. Anime - Blackjack 21

    Sounds like a good situation and an interesting story. Jose.
  15. The Poetry Of Brian Faulkner

    Brian: Below are your poems reproduced in quoations and after each stanza is my understanding of what the stanzas mean. I expect that you know exactly what you are saying with each word you use. And so let me know if I miss your meaning. "I do love you more than anything on earth; Each breath, within your presence, feels like spring. I'd speak to you love's noblest words of worth, But can't; life swells and swells till I must sing." That’s nice. Being in the beloved’s presence makes each breath a welcoming pleasure so that he is pressured to breathe more than usual. So he silently breathes and contemplates until he must sing—not talk. "You walk across the floor and stun my eyes--- They cannot look away, far-off or near; You spin into my arms like shooting skies, Loud-laughing while I'm kissing sphere on sphere." I have trouble with this one: how does a shooting sky look? I can picture a woman spinning across a dance floor, so swift and gracefully, that all one sees isa blur. Kissing sphere on sphere means mouth to mouth, I gather. "The beauty of your mouth's a glorious deed; Your passion through it purchases my will. I spend and spend and spend, I am all greed; You take me wholly while I fill and fill." Her kisses are glorious that they come to own the man. And yet it is reciprocal because HE spends and spends greedily. The last line suggests to me that they are struggling, in battle, in their kissing. "There is some height of life, I surely know, That none may view and leave, and not be sad. But we leave not, we seize it high and low, And until life be death our love of it be glad." Why would the viewers leave sad? Is it because they can’t have what these two have? By the third line I start to believe that they are all alone and the only one’s viewing. And it is not going to be a sad departing ending; they leave not. They promise to be married and therefore the sight will leave no viewer sad, not them and no one else. Jose.
  16. Jolie confirmed as playing Dagny Taggart in Atlas Shrugged Movie

    I just watched Motorcycle Diaries. The actor who played Che Guevera (Gael Garcia Bernal) was very good. I saw him in Y Tu Mama Tambien, and he was good but he was just a kid, and you could not really admire him as a hero. Now he's grown up. And I think he can also make a good Francisco D'Anconia. He seems to speak English well, though he has a strong accent, which I'm not sure he can control. Francisco does not have such an accent at all. Robert Wallace might just do a great job. Thanks for sharing. Jose Gainza.
  17. Victoria Day Anew

    Victoria Day Anew By Jose Gainza Timberlake Temps was a very busy fellow. In this day and age of poets having to work as a bartender, or something of the type, to supplement their living, Timberlake was a successful poet. He actually got to spend his days writing poetry and reading books. He drove an aqua coloured, 2007 Thunderbird. He lived comfortably and leisurely in suite 1800 of a beautiful grey, glass condo tower by The Rogers Centre, overlooking the lake, and the brother towers of the skyline. This group of apartment buildings was so nice that it housed its own well-equipped recreation centre, its façade resembling something out of Frank Lloyd Wright. Attached to the building in which he lived, which was the northwest tower, was a Montessori school, and it was here where taught Angelina D’ Angelo. She had access to the recreation facility and habitually exercised there after work. There she had met a young, exquisitely beautiful, a slender giant, a blonde beast of a man, with ocean blue eyes, a type of man who if eugenics were possible, would approach the ideal, so much so that his perfection was evident in the texture of his skin, and in the orange hue of his sweet smelling skin. Angelina fell in love with this man at first sight. She had never managed to convince him to go out on a date with her, though it was evident that he really enjoyed the time they spent at the gym. They contributed to each other’s exercise, and talked health, but talked philosophy, and about art, and the political issues of the day. She knew that he was a busy man. But still, she could not understand, or figure out, the reason for his seeming coyness. And then one day she found out the reason why. She had gone to the gym late, towards its closing hour, because she had a staff meeting. And when she left, as she approached the common boulevard, about fifty meters away, was the figure of a man whose figure was unmistakable, outside of Timberlake’s building. The man had another man in an embrace, prior to them hurrying into the main lobby. She knew the nature of that embrace. And though she was fighting with a sudden pain, she managed to say to herself, in a muttered tone, “Important work and love—that’s why there is no time.” At home, she was too distracted to do anything but watch television. She stopped for her amusement on a channel in which she recognized a local Christian preacher. The subjects were those sinners with unnatural lusts. He was foreboding a time soon to come when the punishment for this, in a city with so many “Unnaturals”, was the destruction of the entire city of Toronto, and that these creatures should stop engaging in their private, ecstatic actions in order to prevent it. Soon she began to laugh very excitedly. It was the utter silliness of the preacher’s sermon that inspired this. And she then forgave Timberlake for that something which it was not her place to forgive. The next day she went to the gym at the usual time. She ran into Timberlake. She had to know for certain. She reported the sermon of the preacher of the night before. And by the look on her face when she was telling the story, he knew that it was time to confirm what she wanted confirmed. He said afterwards, “Even if my love life had that power, I would not save the whole universe, to give up my happiness.” “Splendid,” was all Angelina said in answer. On a Monday he entered the lobby of his building from the street. He greeted the always-smiling concierge man at the services desk, and approached the mailroom. In his box he found an envelope about the size of his hand. He tore it open and found a white invitation; the gold letters spelling out the following: Jason and Margo Temps eagerly invite you, Sunday October 20, 2006, to celebrate the Christening of our precious girl, Victoria Temps … He knew that it would happen someday, and yet he was still surprised that it was going to happen. Timberlake was not a religious man, an atheist and lover of reason to the root. He remembered never really taking Catholicism seriously, and when he discovered philosophy at eighteen years, he rejected all religion immediately. The notion of the holy trinity, of original sin, of the resurrection, and supernaturalism seemed so silly, and when he saw the deadly conflict this form of supernaturalism created in men, he adopted anger for it. Why can’t they just let her choose her own religion, when she’s old enough, he thought to himself. And he knew that he could not go to the baptism or the reception, for he could not celebrate the idea of such an innocent lovely girl as a sinner. But she’s not mine; I have no rights in this matter. And he muttered to himself, slightly amused, while he rode up the elevator, “God grant me the courage to change the things I can, the serenity to accept it when I can’t, and the wisdom to know the difference.” He forgot about it. He had planned to research on the Internet for the history of the French symbol of the rooster, for a poem he was planning to write. He checked his e-mail account first. There was one from his mother, with a subject heading, “La Precieuse”. She had sent him a recent picture of baby Victoria. It was a picture of her laying laughing, her crown of black hair dishevelled by her own hands, her feet seeming to wiggle, and her Andalusian skin promising to be a gypsy goddess one day. Timberlake could not prevent a great smile. “How can I prevent it?” He said to himself, as he logged out of his e-mail account. In the evening, he went to work out at the recreation centre. There she was in a white sweat top and black tight pants. Her blonde hair was tied back in a ponytail, and it danced with every stride and hop of her running on the treadmill. Her beautiful face was perspiring, which gave her an added provocative glow. He joined her on the treadmill next to her. She smiled at him in the mirrored wall ahead of them, and he as well. He spoke. “Angelina, I need you to be my angel. I need your help.” “What?” “I need you to teach me how to baby sit an infant. I want to baby sit my niece on Saturday. I need to save her soul. They’re going to baptize her on Sunday.” “People still do that?” He laughed in response. “But seriously, though, Timberlake, it is unfortunate. Something so important as a person’s philosophy should be left up to the person to decide on her own, when she starts asking such questions, not when the child can’t even speak yet.” “I agree.” “So how are you going to save her soul?” “I may fail but what I’m going to do, is make Saturday her special day. I’m stealing Victoria Day from all Canadians. Every year Victoria Day will be celebrated on October 19 from here onwards. She must listen to reason; I’m going to lecture her on the subject of baptism; maybe she’ll get something from it. It seems futile but I got to give it a shot. And then I’ll sing to her and read her poetry; maybe I’ll dance for her.” “Good Luck.” “So will you help me?” “It sounds like a good cause but … what do I get out of it?” “We’ll go out for karaoke one night” “Do you think I’m that desperate to go out with you?” “All I know is that you want to and this is your opportunity. He doesn’t like to free me up; but I’ll make him this time.” “Okay, I do. I’ll help you.” “You’re the best!” “Come tomorrow morning to my school. There’s one parent I’m pretty sure I can get to give me permission to have you train with her daughter.” “That’s perfect.” The next day he went to train with Angelina. When he was done he called his brother at his law office. “Jason, it’s Timberlake. I expect you and Margo to be very busy Saturday. I bet even mother will be cooking all day and won’t have time to take care of Victoria. I’m offering to baby sit her for you.” “But you don’t know how to baby sit an infant.” “I learned this morning. I took a training session with a certified Early Childhood Educator. She even gave me a letter of recommendation.” “You have to run it by the wife. She should be home right now.” Timberlake called Margo. “What are you going to do with her? Where are you going to take her?” “I was thinking that I could take her up the CN Tower. Has she experienced that yet?” “No.” “Then it’s perfect.” She was very reluctant because she always felt something dangerous in Timberlake. Much of it had to do with his anti-religious views and attitude. She was, after all, about to baptize her daughter with the Catholic Church. But she knew that she desperately needed a baby sitter so that she could be free to prepare for the party of Saturday. “You’re not going to kidnap Victoria so you can stop her from being baptized tomorrow, are you?” She said it mostly in jest. “No,” he said, “I’m not going to kidnap her. ** Timberlake Temps and Victoria Temps ascended the glass elevator of the CN tower. On deck, they approached the panoramic windows. He knew that the highest static observational point would be apt for what he was about to tell her. The bird’s eye view that the tower allowed highlighted the vastness of this created earth. He knew not what object she was looking at, but he noticed what seemed to be a scornful countenance, and he hoped that what she was looking at was the tiny cathedral in the distance. He was holding her, her back to his chest, her legs hanging over one of his arms. And thus spoke Timberlake Temps: “Victoria, let me tell you the meaning of what they are going to do to you tomorrow. They say that there once lived a man named Jesus, around the time of Caesar. He is the idol of pity, sacrifice, unconditional charity, and undiscriminating love. By the time this Jesus arrives on earth, humans have been killing each other for centuries and centuries. It is a symptom of an earlier punishment to two men, a punishment enacted by a supposed entity called God, the alleged creator of the universe. The transgressors were also the first men made by God. God wanted them to be ignorant of the concept of morality, of good and bad. If they ate from the tree of knowledge, they would learn of the concept of guilt. But if they resisted the temptation, and only eat from the tree of life, they will live in ignorance of guilt, and live forever on earth. But a serpent tricked them. Eve gave an apple from the tree of knowledge to Adam and said, “Eat it!” He ate it and soon discovered the idea of morality, and soon he began to feel embarrassed at his nudity, finally knowing of guilt in the form of shame. “These two beings were supposed to be the purpose of God—but not the final end—only a means to the end of harvesting the earth with the form of causality which is toil. When they discovered morality, they ruined God’s plans. So God showed them Justice. They were banished from the Garden of Eden to forever love and hate each other. And their descendants would love and hate each other. Man would henceforth war forever. And so when this idol named Jesus entered the Jordan River of Palestine, men were warring still, infinitely multiplying since the punishment of Adam and Eve. This Jesus was to be the salvation of man. “This brings us to what they are about to do to you tomorrow. You will be clothed in a lavish white dress, not naked. And then they will pour water over your head. I’m not sure whether it’s Evian water or tap water, but what makes it special is that its nature is allegedly altered after a man in a lavish robe himself says a prayer. It then comes in communication with some other dimension. And so this water will be poured over your head, where resides your soul … your mind … in which resides your knowledge and your thought. But you are not a sinner, little baby girl—you are just a baby girl! “What punishment is this water supposed to save you from? Were you a sinner when you cried all those times, when all you wanted was food? Were you a sinner when you bit too hard on your mother? Were you a sinner when you slept too long or woke up too soon? Were you a sinner when you soiled and wet your diapers? Were you guilty of that stench? Were you a sinner when you laughed and filled the room with joy? Hell No!” And then the stench reached his nose. “I thought we could get through our day together without you doing this, Victoria.” She giggled widely. He took her to the restroom for her changing. Angelina had taught Timberlake well, so well that the gruesomeness of the phenomenon was bearable. He took her back to the window, and let her witness the earth of which a part she would one day conquer for her, an earth in which she would too one day be an original creator. “Now where was I? … Not yet; no, you are not a sinner yet. You can be a sinner when you’re grown, if you steal an apple from the grocer, for example. Or if you hit another child when that child has not hit you first—Or if you lie, like spreading nasty rumours, or to protect a sinner—these are sins, baby girl. So if you’re not a sinner, why will they be pouring water over your head? What’s left? Adam and Eve, and the inevitable conflicts you will engage in with your fellow men, in the future. This god damned baptism ritual is superfluous; this is what you need know. “This is why I must give you a rational ritual before they who love you blaspheme against you, baby girl. We shall celebrate your innocence … not your guilt. We shall celebrate the innate, primordial innocence of man … not his guilt.” She began to giggle with her mouth open wide. He held her upright, her head resting on his left shoulder. He began to dance her around the observation deck, spinning slowly and gracefully. She giggled and mumbled sweet nonsense. Sometimes she screamed with joy. “Now it is time for more of my serious talk; the real good news. What are the truths of our creation and salvation? How the first man came about we do not know. But we do know a sufficient amount of man’s history not to make the same mistakes twice, though the majority of men today still believe in those ancient delusions and idols. We know that today man can be the creator of a new man. Today he has the potential to not only be a vehicle of nature through the standard natural birth process. As we can clone sheep, we can clone men. (But this is not my point, baby girl). “To verify the old Judeo-Christian legend is not the purpose and sanction of our lives. To keep on living as if it really occurred, as if it indeed has the consequences it claims to have, is simply silly. That even today men take it seriously—is horrifying.” And then she began to cry suddenly. “Don’t be scared, baby—it’s not so scary.” And then he smelled her, and discovered that she had wet herself. Again they returned to the restroom. When they returned to the deck, he remained silent for a moment looking at the neighbourhood in which he now lived. It was once a vast plain of unused land, and now a dozen condominium towers were raised and a living community. “Where was I? … It is not man’s ideal to be ignorant of morality. Such an ideal is a recipe for his doom. That Garden of Eden that was lost is not the cause of our torment—but, if true, it is the source of our glory and the source of our happiness. How? –Because this god that they speak of is not the prime mover of the universe. First of all, this god of theirs is incompetent, his might always in danger of being challenged. Such is not the character of an almighty Prime Mover. “Just as men cannot know how came about the first man, so he cannot know the origin of the only universe. Such an exploration is a recipe for earthly frustration. And we should not lament at this frustration. We shall only shrug it off and move on, onto that glorious road of science, art, and a rational philosophy. Even these things are not ends in themselves. Not even art is, in this context, if you think about it. They—these!—serve the salvation and advancement of man. “It is not Jesus Christ that we wait for. We must wait for ourselves—each and every one of us. Growth, the journey to adulthood, is the struggle to know thyself, to know one’s nature, to choose the things that will bring one joy—and fear; to choose one’s sacred work. Adam was punished with toil? We accept it and bless ourselves with the joy we find in it. Adam and his wife lost eternal life on earth? We know that our mortality is part of the adventure, and that to extend man’s life, and his freedom, and his joy is part of our glory. “The Edenites’s disobedience was the cause of all our wars? We know the cause of war: when one man attempts, unworthy, to take by force the property and life of another, and when the potential victim counter-attacks; or when two brutes fight for the stolen loot, stolen from the innocent. We know that men must discover the good because it is the good that keeps us striving alive. We know that knowledge is a blessing, though it is toil. We know that knowledge, not faith, wins us our self-esteem, and the actions that will confirm it, and the technologies of our ease, rest, and pleasure. “We do not wait for God to punish us—we punish ourselves if need be. We do not wait for God to save us—we save ourselves. We do not wait for God to rewards us—we reward ourselves with life and happiness. And we do not wait for the hereafter—we conquer our reason, purpose, self-esteem, and this earth here and now. And when we find ourselves on our deathbed, we look back on life saying, “it was purposeful, it was joyous; it was worth it,” thus we sanction life. We need no sanction from a non-entity, some anti-concept, who never created this world, and never knew its greatness, or the greatness of man and his ego. “’I am. I think. I will.’ Amen.” He turned her to face him and he held her high, their eyes engaged with each other. She gazed at him with a puzzled look, very attentive and curious. It was as if she was witnessing a new phenomenon, some new type of creature. No one had ever spoken to her in such a manner, with such words, with such passion and conviction. No one had ever spoken about truth so far. “But you do not understand me, as you will not understand the friar of tomorrow. But the look on your face is not of the quality that I’ve seen before. No, you are no longer laughing. You are no longer smiling. Your face is serious but you are not about to cry—you are not angry. You’re serious—do you need changing? … No. You’re serious—you are solemn. Your eyes have suddenly turned intelligent. Do you understand me?” And then suddenly one single tear rolled down her right cheek and down her throat. “You do understand! I’m glad it is just one tear, for that is all you need. You cry not for yourself and not for me, I know. You may not know what the tear is for: it’s for your parents, and your grandmother, and all those Christians who will be celebrating the cleansing of your sins, oh innocent baby girl. They know better. All they need is one. So tomorrow, when that brother of pity tries to pour water over your head, I want you to … I want you to rebel; throw a tantrum. I want you to make that ‘cleansing’ impossible for there is nothing to cleanse, you innocent baby girl. “So I proclaim today, October 19, Victoria Day. We shall replace the institution of tyranny still celebrated in this country, in the name of the Queen of England. We replace it with a holiday in the name of, not a princess, but of a future productive and innocent woman.” And then they descended back to earth, and he took her to enjoy a spectacle of entertainment. He had booked the karaoke room in the recreation centre of his building. He sang to her and he read her poetry. And one day in the future her favourite song was to become Nat King Cole’s Mona Lisa, and her favourite poem would become Berton Brailey’s The Thinker. He returned her home to her parents. And upon Timberlake’s departure, she did not cry, but she did look at him with familiarity and longing. And the next day they took her to church for her salvation. She wore a white gown of silk, and her godparents held her. And as the priest began to call them forth and to approach the baptism tub, Victoria began to cry. With every step that was taken she cried even louder. The crowd of onlookers were silent, and the echoes of the church made her screams a sort of torture for them. And as they held her over the water, she suddenly let out a frightening scream, a savage scream, so violent, that her parents were scared for her health. They waited some fifteen minutes and tried again but as they approached the tub again, Victoria began to cry. The baptism would not happen today. Six months later, they tried again but in vain. And six months after that, they tried again: still impossible. Then Victoria’s parents finally got the message. Their baby knew and had the courage to proclaim that she was not a natural born sinner. THE END.
  18. Prison Break (2005)

    I really enjoy this show too. I started watching it last season around the time when they were showing how the prisoners got convicted and why. The scenes where we learn how Schofield planned the escape and the revelation of his genius were what made me know that I would admire Schofield. I agree that they, the escapees, should have executed T-Bag themselves as soon as possible. When they do, it would actually make the stakes for the executioner much more higher. Mahone gives me the same feeling that Javert (Les Mis) does. However, I haven't caught on whether Mahone is corrupt and part of the conspiracy. When he shot the kid-prisoner-was that the revelation? Anyways, I recommend this show. I actually think Wentworth Miller would make a wonderful Francisco D'Anconia in the movie. Jose Gainza
  19. All I Ever Wanted

    I will only say now that it was a pleasure to read and a very pretty story. Jose Gainza.
  20. The Letter

    Robert Spoule: When I finish reading this story it leaves me with a feeling of hope. The hope is found in the idea that a President would have the wisdom and courage to reveal the letter and its theme. I too have wondered if in our primordial past, a race of men surpassed us in achievement--and then lost their paradise to some dark ages. It is pleasing that the continent today that is the leitmotif of poverty and despair, was in you past time, the center of an industrial-technological age; neat. There is not dramatic conflict but, then again, it is a short-short story. I can't fina a plot in yours. There are many short stories that have no plot but do have a beautiful final effect: this is one of them. Poe's THE OVAL PORTRAIT comes to mind. The final effect, which is very interesting and successful, the twist, seems to be a conflict that man the species faces--and not the conflict and resolution of an individual character. Overall it was a pleasing piece and made my walk to the dry cleaners in Little Portugal that much more enjoyable. Jose Gainza.

    PANACHE AND LOVE BY MIKE By Jose Gainza Justin Firkin was once a concierge person, a tenant service representative, at an opulent high-rise condominium. The tower wore a sparkling skin of sapphire coloured glass, and rose, slender, towards a large sapphire sphere at the crest. The tower resembled Atlas holding the world above his shoulders. Justin knew that in a few years he would achieve his goal of becoming a fireman. According to his plan, concierge work would pay his bills and grant him savings, while he waited to achieve a job as fireman. His tuition would be taken care of by the grace of his benefactor, an old wealthy man Justin had saved from a house fire recently. It was a job he knew he wouldn’t have to think about much when he was away from it, and it would help cover what wasn’t covered by the benefactor’s grant. The interviewer told him the job would consist of getting people their mail, of giving them parking permits, of getting violators ticketed, of storing and issuing residential keys, of dealing with various contractors—the type of stuff that people take for granted and yet the stuff they would miss if they weren’t around. And so he was serene in his job. And since he knew what he wanted in his life, he was genuinely happy. He would not be the stereotypical brooding, melancholy concierge man, bitter at the people with money whom he serves. His supervisor and trainer, Patty Mc King, an Irishman proud and ashamed of being Irish all at the same time, was immediately impressed by Justin’s character. He was a boy of subtle charisma with a mind that grasped things easily; intimate with the pool of common sense, so that the instructions were easily understood and connected to that pool. Not surprisingly, he was particularly interested in learning about the building’s fire plan and emergency procedures. It was simple: an alarm sounds—an announcement is made—elevators are prepared—keys await the hands of the saviours—more announcements—the false alarm is usually the case—the day continues. In the event of a real fire things get slightly more complicated and what exactly to do can never be written down completely in advance. In regards to the fire announcements the following instruction was stressed by Patty Mc King, “One is only to use the fire panel microphone to communicate during a fire alarm. Under no other circumstances, unless otherwise instructed by Property Management, are you to use this microphone. You got it?” “I got it.” Justin answered with a slight annoyance because the instruction was clear. And besides what did Patty think he would do—serenade some sexy resident some day? He got it. As soon as one got past the front door with one’s mini electronic transmitter, one no longer needed it to get to one’s floor in the elevator. Justin found this immediately odd because it seemed to be common knowledge that one can always get past the lobby of almost any building. Why wasn’t such an opulent building supplied with a heightened security feature? He thus knew that he would take this problem seriously. He would stop everyone who attempted to ‘piggy back’ and verify his or her identity and place of abode. On a morning he arrived one hour and a half early for his first shift, which gave Patty Mc King the opportunity to go for a cigarette break at five to seven. It was then that a beautiful young woman rushed past his desk in the lobby and out onto the street. She was wearing a tight runner’s tank top and spandex shorts, her blonde hair tied back into a ponytail. He noticed her return first at seven-thirty in the morning, while Patty was on his second opportune cigarette, she pacing in the front vestibule, catching her breath. He was watching her on the camera system. He could tell that she was sweaty and her clothes were quite damp. Her face appeared very red but she was influenced, it seemed, by the runner’s high, for there was a subtle smile on her face—as he zoomed in with his camera—and the blushing cheeks were glowing, and she appeared newly energized. After a few moments, he wondered why she had not entered the building, as she started to appear impatient. He continued to watch, silently contemplating her athletic beauty. Soon he heard the rattling at the glass entrance door, and he could see her hand knocking against the glass. He made her wait. And soon she began to pull at the door violently, which angered Justin. He pressed the button underneath his desk and awaited her to confront him. She seemed the type, not the type who would slyly attempt to sneak past him. “What took you so long?” She commanded. “Where’s your transmitter?” “I run every morning. Everyone knows to open the door for me.” “I am new.” “I noticed. I expected them to pass on the message to you.” “They did not. Why don’t you carry your transmitter?” “Because it’s too bulky and I don’t like the noise when I run.” “How are you going to get into your apartment?” “I left it unlocked.” This admission shocked him. “Why don’t you just leave your key with us and pick it up on your way in? Why haven’t you submitted something in writing formally requesting that we provide you with this service?” “No one has suggested that.” “We can take care of that right now. I’ll type out the letter very quickly and you sign it. I’ll then file it away and you can refer to it whenever you notice someone new. On your way in tonight, drop us off a photocopy of your driver’s license and that will make it official, once I confirm your status with Property Management.” “Sure. My name is Tracey Candelina. Suite 1600.” He wrote the letter. About an hour later, she rushed by him without noticing him, wearing a soft cream coloured suit, and a black silk blouse, her hair loose, and the scent of vanilla lingering behind her. Piggy backing was an epidemic. By noon, he had confronted twenty-three people who gained access after following someone in who had used his or her transmitter. Most claimed to be guests just visiting for a few hours, most claiming that such was there habit, and most expressing annoyance at having to identify themselves to Justin, or wait for his phone call up to the suite, or at having to return to the enter phone system to call up their host to let them in. He was shocked when one male resident called him to complain. “So what’s the problem buddy—why didn’t you let my girlfriend in?” “Because I didn’t know who she was and I discovered that the only one with documented authorization to access the building, in relation the suite in question, is the person on the proof of ownership, a man by the name of Carl Jasper; no additional authorization has been granted to secondary parties.” “I’m Carl.” “Good.” “So are you going to let her in next time?” “If you fill in the proper paper work I will.” “I’m a busy guy. I don’t have time.” “Then I will not let her in the next time.” “What’s your problem?” “At the last place I was in I made the mistake of letting a girl up to knock at a suite. I saw her always very intimate with a man I knew to be the resident, and he seemed to adore her. So I thought nothing of it. It turns out he was entertaining someone else when she got up there. He almost got violent with me afterwards. I’ve learned to respect the privacy of the individual.” The resident was silent for a moment and then he chuckled. “You got a point there,” he said, “I’ll fill out the paperwork later on today.” Patty Mc King called later that day to check up on him. Justin Firkin voiced his concern about the piggybacking epidemic. “Don’t worry about it,” he said, “in a month they’ll need their transmitters to even get up to their suites. Then you won’t have to worry about the intentions of the trespassers—they won’t be able to trespass.” This reassured Justin but not completely, because how could he rest assured until then? A month seemed way too long. Since he was new, he knew that the lack of security was not his responsibility yet; he had not caused the rift. Was it Patty Mc King? Perhaps. He knew that most new recruits were apathetic. He would continue to be strict with the residents no matter who would get angry and no matter what the intensity. Soon the Fed Ex man arrived with a delivery for suite 1600. He logged the information into the logbook. And then he was pleasantly surprised to find the name of the company that supplied the thin box. Victor Hugo Book of the Month Club was the name of the sender. Justin looked up the website and found that this company sent a new leather-bound volume of the works of Victor Hugo every month to its subscribers. It was an expensive subscription, one Justin would not be able to afford any time soon. Justin himself had read Les Miserables, Notre Dame de Paris, Torquemada, and Hernani, and he loved the experience. Mr. Hugo was so passionate, dramatic, and prolific and there was a lifetime of his works still to read. That Tracey had such a long-term subscription was evidence of a lovely soul, and a rare one. He had something to talk to her about. Around two o’clock, she returned, and approached Justin with a delivery notice she had obtained from her mailbox. He gave her the package with almost as much excitement as he expected from her. She grinned widely for a moment, “Finally it’s here!” “I love Victor Hugo,” he declared. “Which one is it?” “It’s one I haven’t had the pleasure to read yet in all my years of having discovered him: Torquemada.” “I’ve only read four of his works. I’ve read that one.” “Please don’t say anything about it. I’ve been fighting my friends for years not to ruin it for me.” “Fine. I’ll just say that it’s a hot one.” “I think I know what you mean.” “You will.” “I’m glad to find someone in such a lowly position who is well read.” “I’m glad you’re one who has the audacity to name the level of my position.” “I used to bar tend before I began my career.” And then she walked away. He had skipped lunch because he was not hungry. He told himself that he would wait until he got home to eat again. But 4 p.m. came and his relief did not show up. He called headquarters and they told him that he would have to work an extra four hours but promised that someone would relieve him at that time. Another guard arrived to give him his break. He ate the sandwich he had brought for lunch while reading the daily newspaper. He was surprised to read the following story: The headline read: Business Suit Rapist Targets Opulent High Rises. It reported a string of rapes at several of the luxurious condominiums in the downtown core. The suspect would follow his victims into their own residences, after they themselves had used their transmitters at the main lobby entrance. The unsuspecting victim seeing the man in an expensive business suit had no suspicion that the man was not a resident himself. They smiled at him as they rode the elevator with him, and after he had pressed the button for a higher floor than the one that they had pressed. Then he would follow them out of the elevator and when the time was right he would pull out his knife or gun and force them to let him into their dwellings. This was the typical scenario. Justin sat there at the lunch table dumbfounded. He was struck with a sudden terror, and struggled not to think of what might happen to Tracey if this man chose her as his victim. He vowed to stop every piggy backer he could. But what could he do when a string of ten or so residents arrive at the entrance door at the same time, only one person needing to use his or her transmitter to let the rest in? Who does one stop? What does one say? Does one make each and every one of them go back and wait to use their respective transmitters? He was impatient for the day when residents would need their transmitters to access their floors as well as the main lobby door. But he did exactly that; he stopped each and every one of them and insisted that they each take turns using their transmitters. A few of them did appreciate it. Soon a happy looking elderly woman approached his concierge desk to request a visitor’s parking permit. “What suite are you here to visit?” “Suite 1600. She’s my daughter.” “I’ll just call up and confirm.” “Yes, please do.” Tracey confirmed that she was indeed expecting this woman who was her mother. “I’m glad you checked on that. I’ve been let into this building and given visitor parking very easily in the recent past. With that recent article about that monster, I’m glad you take the extra precaution.” “I found that article horrifying too.” “I’m reassured by the knowledge that my daughter can take care of herself and overcome a potential attacker.” “Really?” “Yes, really.” “If you don’t mind me asking: what does she do for a living? I know that she runs every morning and that she likes romantic fiction.” “How do you know she like romantic fiction?” “She received a package today from the Victor Hugo Book of the Month Club.” “Oh, she must be very excited today. She’s probably reading it right now.” “So, what does she do?” “Oh, yes … she runs a personal trainer school and agency. It’s called Human Triumph. She’s very successful.” “I’ve heard of them. Can I ask you a strange question?” “What is it?” “Do you think a guy like me has a chance? What does she want?” “Aren’t you an audacious one?” “My apologies.” “I’ll tell you in one word?” “Thank you.” “Panache.” “Panache?” “Panache.” She walked away. Justin Firkin was reading through the rulebook, and he had a little over an hour to go in his extended shift. It was a quiet patch of time he was in the midst of. A young woman and a middle-aged one were sitting on the lobby sofa having a conversation, their dialogue easily heard due to the prominent echo in the quiet lobby. The younger one was welcoming the older one home. “Roxanne, it’s been almost a year since I’ve last seen you! How was California this time? What movie were you starring in this time?” “I was playing a chef who is in danger of losing her life by her own hand. She is addicted to her own cooking and that cooking is leading her to create greater and richer dishes. She is growing evermore obese, and her energy is escaping her. Her cholesterol is high and she is developing heart disease. But she believes it is her mission in life to provide the world with the best food, as long as she is able to remain living, because she believes that she is a vehicle of destiny. She believes that men have reached a stage in history in which she was destined to be born and provide them with perhaps the best food that has ever been created. The problem is that no one wants to stop her because they too are addicted to her cooking. She dies of a heart attack on the day of her triumph, the end of a grand festival, in which her masterpieces are the main event.” “It sounds like a very rewarding role.” “Yes, spiritually it is but I regret that I have turned into a whale.” “The change is not hard to notice and I was struggling not to express my concern. I was hoping not to insult you and yet warn you.” “You’re right. I will lose it. It is going to be an agony … By the way, I’ve noticed that you have lost your baby fat and have turned into a goddess. Even though almost a year has passed it is still hard to believe the high degree of perfection you have achieved in still such little time.” “I owe it all to Tracey!” “Who?” “She lives in this building. She runs a personal trainer company. She is a miracle worker. And if she is not available her workers are almost as good. Actually, with the knowledge that she possesses, she should have gone to medical school, though I’m glad she didn’t. She is a true muse. And yet she is a true genius. She knows what your body needs to get what you want, and she’ll tell you what you really want. She prescribes the perfect diet, one that is not an ascetic torture. She teaches you how to breathe and how to withstand those nagging temptations. She tells you what novels, poetry, what movies, what songs, will inspire you not only to lose the weight but also to live a better, more moral life. And if you’re fortunate, sometimes, very rarely, she’ll give you one of the greatest massages in your life, so good that you are almost tempted to became a lesbian.” “I’m glad I ran into you then. I must try her out.” “Here; her business card.” “Thanks.” They hugged and went their separate ways, the actress up to her suite, and the younger one in the direction of the work out gym. Eavesdropping over this conversation gave Justin the sudden impulse to ask himself, what ‘panache’ was. He looked up the word in an on-line dictionary: dashing elegance of manner; carefree, spirited self-confidence or style; flamboyance. He knew that he could be such a person, and he remembered that he often was. Wasn’t that time when he saved his benefactor from the fire, an instance of this? Wasn’t the fact that he was willing to be a concierge person, a part of it? There was some of it in the way he asked the mother how to conquer her daughter. He felt as if there was no more time in the world for him to show her this, as if tomorrow would never come—as if life would end at the end of his shift. He searched his mind in desperation for how to express his panache by the end of his shift. But he could think of none. No one hour of that extended shift passed as quickly as that last hour did. Headquarters had kept their promise and a relief person had arrived a few minutes prior to eight o’clock. He handed over the keys and equipment to the other person, gathered his belongings and began to exit the premises. And as he approached the main door, a small group of people were witnessed piggy backing after another resident who had used her own transmitter to gain access. He stopped the trio of middle-aged trespassers, two females and a male. He ordered them to present their transmitters and to use them each, or either one of them to proclaim the other two as his or her guests. The trio disobeyed him and stared at him for a moment sternly in an attempt to intimidate him. “Let me see your transmitters,” he ordered. “Do you know who I am?” Thus was the taunt from the dark-skinned male. “Do you know who we are?” Repeated the female. “No, of course not, which is why I am asking you to present your transmitters.” “Allow me to introduce myself,” said the white man, ”I am Paul Wilkinson, president of the board of directors.” “Then you know that I can’t take your word for it. Either present me with your transmitter or present me with your driver’s license.” The president had expected that declaring his status would intimidate Justin to the point of, automatically upon hearing those words, ‘president’ ‘of’ ‘the’ ‘board’, to relinquish his responsibility and wave his arm in a gesture of welcome, and bow in an attempt at apology. Thus he was annoyed at Justin’s answer. “So which will it be?” Continued Justin. “Neither. We’ll just walk in. What are you going to do about it?” “Don’t test me.” “Really?” And the president made to go past him, and Justin grabbed his arm and manoeuvred to press the president against the glass wall of the vestibule and pinned both of his arms behind his back, causing the president to scream in anguish. “If you are who you say you are, then you shouldn’t have a problem with me being so strict with the rules. You should thank me for it. If it’s my first day here, how am I supposed to know who you are? What did you think that my trainer would say, ‘the president you’ll know who he is because he’s the one who goes around flaunting the fact that he’s the president’? No, of course not! Based on all my knowledge, I am within my rights to detain you in this way. Would you like me to go through with the entire process, or will you just end it right here and present me with either item that I asked for?” “Take out my wallet from my pocket,” said the president grunting, annoyed, knowing that he was beaten, yet admitting in that tone that he was indeed wrong. The president had identification, and his two companions, two other board members, did have their transmitters. This fact enraged Justin, “Then why the hell did we go through this fiasco!” And he rushed out of the building furious at the foolishness of the human race. The board members rode up in their elevator silently. The female member was remembering the strength of the new concierge man and was beginning to feel warm inside. She couldn’t help but remember a certain action of his tight buttocks, the slenderness yet the ferocious strength of his torso, the soft beauty of his masculine face, the lines of his legs, the shaved head that gave her the urge to massage it. But they rode up in silence, each departing silently onto their respective floors. He couldn’t sleep that night. It was not the knowledge of the possibility that he might be fired the next day. He would easily find another job. It was not the knowledge that the president might, in an attempt to avenge the embarrassment caused him, press charges or sue. Justin knew he was still right. He wanted to teach a lesson to all the residents, not just the president of the board. He wanted them to understand, to grasp, the potential dangers in their thoughtless, passive, apathetic actions. He wanted to teach the same lesson to the whole human race. And he wanted, needed still, to dance the panache dance for his new beloved, tonight, before slumber hit his boiling daring. And then he thought of the answer. He knew what he would do. He dressed in his best suit and called a taxi. He arrived at the sapphire tower in less than half an hour. The man who relieved him earlier buzzed him through the front door. Justin greeted him with a big smile, made small talk he was barely conscious of, and made him laugh a few times, and when his co-worker was deep into a story, Justin made his move. He snatched the keys that had been left on the tabletop. He rushed into the fire panel room and locked the door behind him. The co-worker was helpless. He did not know that there existed a spare key to the room in the key box, and he did not think to consider it. He did not call a supervisor, or the police. He was actually amused and curious to see what Justin was planning to do inside that room. Suddenly he heard a long beep coming from the speakers up in the ceiling. It was the cue someone had activated the mike of the fire panel and was about to make an announcement. And then the voice of a statesman, a warrior, and a poet combined, thrust forth: “Ladies and Gentlemen … Ladies and Gentlemen … Wake-up! Wake-up! Listen to what I have to tell you. Listen to what you need to hear. “There was a primordial time when the non-security of land-owners was taken for granted, thus men of right had to fear the thieving criminal, more so than he had to fear the criminal’s fellow beasts. But to the mind of some wise man it dawned on him the means to protect himself from the brutes. Private men would transfer their right to defend themselves, over to a general body representative of the community. Thus any transgression against the property of a man, including his person, would be met with the force of that newly governing body; would be met by Justice. Soon that threat from the brutes became marginal. And soon, the centuries passed and we developed into our modern societies geared around protecting its citizens from criminals. The criminal is always a threat, though he may be marginal. “Just read today’s paper and see what threat threatens you. There is a rapist running loose in our city, and in our neighbourhood. You may say that he will not strike here—that may be so. But you’ve never let yourself know the true nature of the criminal. He is a man who needs victims to survive. He is unwilling and even unable to survive without crime. To commit a crime is always on his mind, always ready for that opportunity, when someone is thoughtless, careless, unprepared, naively trusting, stupid, scared, weak. He is waiting for it, as that monster has waited for his opportunity to violate those women. That’s all he needed: the opportunity. “I insist to the board of directors that immediately you secure the funding to install the transmitter readers into your elevators. This is imperative. Fail to do so, and you will pay … eventually. And until then, use your transmitters, don’t piggyback, expect your neighbours to use theirs to. Embrace certainty, embrace knowledge, embrace reason! Don’t let your feelings govern your security. Just like a good man can play the role of a villain, so a villain can play the role of a good man. “It’s not just this specific threat that one should defend against. How about the thief? How about the terrorist? You live in one of the most beautiful buildings in the world—don’t you think there are terrorists salivating for the opportunity to destroy your sapphire? And the homeless who want a night’s bed in your stairwells, or the vandal who wants your walls as his canvass, or you windows as his stress reliever? You want security? It’s simple: don’t piggyback; don’t piggyback ever again. In the name of your children—don’t! “I gather each and everyone of you is an important human being. But there is one person living in this tower who is the most important of all, perhaps in all the world—I swear! She does not deserve the threat all you piggy backers open for her. Have you seen her? Do you know which goddess I speak of? Have you seen her silky, firm legs in the morning, so strong, so swift? Have you seen her gossamer blonde hair as it floats in the wind? Have you dreamed of falling asleep within, between her breasts? Have you caught her sweet nectar fragrance as she escapes from this fortress of hers? Have you been struck dumb, deaf, and blind at the vision of her brightness, her utter beauty, her doll-like face? “Have you caught a glimpse of her soul? Do you know the stature of her mind? Do you know, so rare, that she is a worshipper of Victor Hugo? Do you know that she inspires men and women to perfect their bodies and ameliorate their souls. Do you know that she is a student of medicine, one of the greatest benefactors of mankind? Do you know that any criminal would want to reach her bed because they, deluded by her mystique, are then forced to believe that she will wipe away their sins with her lips? Do you know that she’s a daughter? Do you know that she’s a runner, and do you know she is so strong? “Do you imagine, like me, the angelic, sonorous, melody of her song? Do you imagine the poetry that is swelling within her towards eruption? Do you know the stages of philosophic wisdom she may have reached? Do you know what her favourite foods are? Do you know if she likes wine? Do you know what she dreams about? Do you know what she watches on television? Do you know where she has travelled? Will she enjoy it if I take her to Greece or Miami? Do you know if she wants children? … Do you know … Do you know … Do you know if she will hate me for this outrage … or will she love me? “For the sake of my love, for the sake of my life—if you are too unselfish to care about your own safety, protect my beloved … do not piggy back … please.” He exited the fire panel room to face his co-worker, who was grinning and shaking his head. “Aren’t you courageous?” “I’ll take full blame for this. If they fire me, at least they’ll remember this, and it might help the situation here for all of you who remain.” “Soon the telephone rang at the concierge desk.” It was not a board member. It was not a resident complaining. It was not Tracey. It was the voice of an older woman who was speaking to Justin’s co-worker. This is what she said: “Tell our friend, our orator, that he defined the word well.” He told this to Justin. And Justin smiled. The co-worker asked, “What word is that?” Justin remained silent for a happy moment. “What word?” Repeated the co-worker. “Panache, boy, panache!” Justin Firkin walked out of the building and into the moonlight. “Panache? … Panache? … Panache.” So repeated the puzzled co-worker. He googled the word on the Internet, and understood the word when he read the following quote by Nathaniel Green: If one is looking for it, Panache can often be found in those occasional moments of regret, when one finally receives from oneself the words one should have said, and the actions one should have taken to achieve the turning point—finally but too late. THE END.
  22. THE THREAT FROM HELIOS—By Jose Gainza One week in early summer, in the early evening, nineteen year old Justin Firkin, was riding his blue mountain bike through the wide, quiet paved streets of Toronto’s Bridle Path. He was almost unconscious that he had stopped before the property jeweled by a large glass structure. Squares, triangles, and curves were attached together and stacked atop each other. It was a large glass home of blue-green, like a piece of rough exotic emerald stone waiting to be cut for a ring, though born from the earth with clean geometric lines. He thought that it was the type of home he would like to live in some day. Suddenly he saw smoke rushing out of a place he knew smoke should not emit from, a large window that could have been the location of the master bedroom, or a home office. He climbed the brick wall, unaware of the pain in his feet from landing from such a height. He flew to the entrance of the house, and smashed through the door’s glass with a lawn sculpture. He opened the door and yelled out. No one answered. He yelled again, even louder. No one answered. He flew up the long curved staircase, the smoke as thick fog before his vision. On the landing he heard a coughing at his feet, where he felt something living hit his feet. He picked up the victim and rushed him outside to breathe the sweet oxygen, and to meet the ambulance that would soon arrive, so indicated by the distant sirens. It was an elderly man and he was conscious, though struggling to breathe. “Is anyone else inside?” Justin said it in a commanding yell. The old man shook his head, indicating no, coughing violently, as he lay outstretched on the soft, well-manicured lawn. And soon the ambulance arrived. The fire department managed to save most of the structure, though a very expensive renovation would be required. The old man subsequently moved to his Muskoka cottage for rehabilitation and to await the completed renovation of his beloved city home. But by late summer the work was done, and his health was much better. Though as reward he had promised to pay for Justin’s college education, he insisted that Justin borrow his cottage for a week, before the summer were to end. He would allow a few of Justin’s trustworthy friends to join him, or Justin could use it alone. Justin chose to go alone. Justin chose to use the large quiet home as a sort of fortress of solitude, to rejuvenate, and enjoy himself alone, before he was to decide what career he would choose. He enjoyed the long quiet drive to the cottage, gradually, step by step escaping from the loud, busy, crowded city; driving the copper colored Range Rover he had borrowed from the old man he had saved. He enjoyed the reading he was able to do, which he rarely did in the city, from the old man’s grand book shelf. He enjoyed the jazz, intense and rare, from the owner’s collection. He enjoyed the fine meats, cheeses, fruits, and vegetables, left for him in the owner’s fridge. He enjoyed some of the fine wine, scotch, and brandy, awaiting him with bows and notes addressed to him. He enjoyed the cool morning awaking wrapped under luxurious fox pelt. He enjoyed the walks through the green echoing woods, and the sounds and buzzing of nature. He enjoyed the sun basked swims in the lake and the naked dips at night. And on one of those nights after one of those dips, he felt unusually cold, as he exited the lake pool. He began to shiver immediately, which made him rush to the cabin, all the way thankful that he had lit a fire in anticipation of his return. As he passed the threshold of the door, he began to take off his robe, which soon was dropped to the floor as his naked body arrived at the fire; his skin beginning to tingle in delight amidst its warmth. He stood before it like a man carrying two pales of heavy water, both arms outstretched so. He turned around slowly to feel the shifting streams of radiation hit his skin. He began to stretch and breathe measured and deeply. He began to squat and he enjoyed the stretching effort, part pleasure part pain, of his firm thighs, hamstrings, knees, and calves; the growing freedom of his lower back, and the length of his spine. In that moment he loved fire as such, as he loved the feeling of saving his benefactor some months ago. And he thought about fire as such as he stayed close to the one before him—as his body grew hotter and hotter amidst the stillness of his thought. Fire can be destructive, he thought, as it could have destroyed the owner of this oasis. Think of Nero and Rome. Think of San Francisco, twice. Think of volcanoes. And yet we need it so, the source of light, the source of warmth. And the tool of brutality and nihilism: think of the library of Alexandria and the lost works of Aristotle. How blind would we be without the sun! How futile and degenerate our ocean travels without our lanterns, lighthouses, without our stars. How dark our searches without the flame to shed the light. And isn’t ignorance like a darkness? And isn’t knowledge like an enlightenment? I open my eyes and expose my ignorance to enlightenment. And yet I can shut my eyes—and I can shut my mind. So that my mind is like a moving flame of my control; I can control the time, duration, and subject of thought; I can control the intensity of my mind’s fire: I can think harder, I can harness a better light more engulfing, and grow in wisdom—with my burning will, my glory flame. And in that moment he fell in love with fire—and feared it too. For, weren’t there, too often, those geniuses who went too far: those scientists, philosophers, psychologists, those who burned themselves with their own torch? At what point is light an evil? In what way does fire destroy? In what context will too much thought make us lose our mind? That night he knew his vacation was worth it, and that one day before he died, he would find out when thought is dangerous—or what type. Leona Greenwood possessed a profound love for her father. She was protective of him, of his fragile, vulnerable soul, because she felt he loved his job too much. He, Allistor Greenwood, was the CEO of Greenwood Lumber, headquartered in a lumber town of northern Ontario. Since her earlier youth she hated the changed countenance that greeted her some nights. It was tired, sad, angry, bewildered. But she knew that he worked most of his hours with a stern face that still promised a faint delightful glow that was his ever-present love of living action, work. She would often remember the smile on his face upon witnessing his cavalcade of trucks marching away with a shipment destined to become the homes of some new neighborhood. And yet there were nights when he came home with that horrid face. As she grew older, and became more involved in the operations of the business, she came to learn that Allistor often had to deal with nagging government inspectors, encumbering government regulation, looting competitors, whining customers, apathetic employees, Machiavellian managers—all a drain of the usual delight of running a business that supplied North America with lumber. Leona wanted to protect him from all this, she wanted to save him, to fly him to a place where the realities of the modern lumber industry were not real. And when she would tell him of this wish, Allistor would laugh. He could not imagine a world where business was not the way it was. He was not a dreamer but a doer, who basked in the delight of doing work he loved, in the delight of growing bigger, to do more of the same. He would call her his little flame, because that is what she would be if she got her wish: an annihilating flame for his enchanted forest. And so she became a part of it. She grew to love it like he did. But her motive was to run the company, and not out of some brutish ambition, but out of her love for him. She wanted to take the helm, to protect Allistor from the storm, to lead him to a happy retirement, where the sun shone all day, extinguishing night once and for all. Because, really, her happiness sprung from a different activity, an activity that was more profound and more complex than the mechanism of running a lumber company. Essentially, she was an aspiring philosopher. Her most enjoyable activity was to read the sages of the last three thousand years, to write her theories down on paper, to walk the forests of her father in a solemn philosophic contemplation, in her peripatetic forests. Helping to run her father’s empire was what she did when she was not involved in philosophic inquiries. She rose quickly and Allistor admired her for it. She rose to the stage where it was clear that she was a dangerous rival to the other executives in waiting. She was just a regional operations manager but she was only twenty. One day Allistor Greenwood decided to take a vacation. It was in the form of camping out on a newly acquired parcel of land in British Columbia, for the purposes of surveying, and determining manufacturing logistics. Leona stayed behind to run the main operations. Justin Firkin, still nineteen, still undecided as to his career, still in the autumn shortly after his cottage of solitude, was watching the national news one afternoon, stretched out on his sofa. One of the top stories made him shoot up from the couch, and stand staring at the news anchor and the video footage provided. Vocelios Daily reported in his deep, strong, thunderous, ominous voice, “In British Columbia today a conflagration, the magnitude of which has not been seen in recent history, is ripping through hundreds of acres of forests. It is reported that the land has been recently acquired by Greenwood Lumber of Ontario. Among the casualties is believed to be Allistor Greenwood, CEO and founder. His reasons for being at the scene are unknown at this time. Trustworthy sources predict that Mr. Greenwood is unlikely to survive the fire because the flames appear to have engulfed the location of his camp. Mr. Greenwood is 68 years old and would leave behind his twenty year old daughter and heiress to his billion dollar fortune. “ The footage was of a rolling blanket of forest, and the scattered walls of fire, smoke black and grey rushing to a grey sky. The vista promised nothing but destruction. Justin’s first instinct was to fly into the television and transport himself to British Columbia, to save his second victim of fire. And his eyes began to tear at the realization that his intentions were futile, and that this old man would surely perish and that the plane dropping water would only tease the thirst of the fire, and that the small army of firemen would be fighting the fire for weeks. And he remembered Vocelios Daily’s mention that he had a daughter his age. And he felt the torture she must be feeling at this very moment. He wanted to hold her, to console her, though he had never met her. He remembered the pride he felt in saving his benefactor, and he knew what he would do with his life: He would become a fire man. Meanwhile Leona Greenwood sat in her office staring at the television she had just turned off. She knew that her father would not survive the inferno. And she commanded that she not cry in that moment; she would wait until the evening when her day’s work was done. She was also not the type who rushed into her suffering; work, thought devoted to lumber manufacturing, would be her way of postponing the inevitable. But she did allow herself to think about the matter, though she would suppress the hurt. This is not the way I wanted him to retire. It was not Earth that I wanted him to leave; not earth I wanted him to turn into. I just wanted him to leave the heavy politics of lumber. He called me his little flame but I was not the flame who burned his forest and his soul. It must have been human accident because it’s too late in summer for the sun to cause the inferno. How many acres will we lose—and what will be the consequence of that? It doesn’t matter … because now I wonder if it’s worth it for me to stay with Greenwood, now that my father is dead. There is nothing left to save. It is fitting that he died amongst his trees, melted and fused into his forest. All that remains is his soul found in the remnant of his business. His vision still remains: to be the best at the lowest price. His style still remains: honesty, justice, reward. His industry must still remain. His wealth must be transformed. I must still remain to provide him with the legacy he deserves. In January Justin Firkin enrolled in the Academy for Fire Prevention Training. In preparation for that he trained every day at the gym to develop the body he would need to bear the endurance and strain of fireman training. He began to read used textbooks he bought at Goodwill on chemistry, physics, and biology. He began to dream of the day when he would become fire chief, or the day when he would be appointed National Commissioner of Fire Prevention and Safety. He even dreamed of some time when he would invent a new type of portable fire extinguisher, or discover a substance that would instantly extinguish a forest fire. The idea of his new found career excited him. Leona, within five years, took full control of the management of Greenwood Lumber. She became CEO, Chairman of the Board, and majority stock holder. She became known in the business world as a prodigy: the Atlanta of the woods—so young, a female in a man’s sport. It was time for her to make one of the biggest decisions of her career. She had to decide where the next big investment was going to be. Everyone in the company, almost everyone, thought she was crazy. Her idea was to build a giant greenhouse, the size of ten football fields, to begin the nursing of Palm trees for the fine furniture industry, and to start a new trend. She was going to hire designers to tell consumers what they could use the new wood for; and scientists who could discover ways to grow tall trees in a matter of months, when it used to take decades perhaps. She found a scientist who promised he could do it. Working in seclusion and isolation at the new greenhouse-laboratory, the scientist would be able to apply his new developed method and nutrients to the species of trees that constituted the bulk of the mainstream forestry industry. She had showed the necessary people the numbers and the science behind her idea, and after a hard, hard battle, she won them over and secured the funding. The landsite was chosen, cleared, and tilled. The seeds were ordered. The endeavor would be starting in a matter of weeks. Justin Firkin was performing squatting exercises with a long bar weight on his back. He was looking, concentrated, into his own eyes, grunting softly with every plunge. He wore a now moistened tight fire department t-shirt, and fire department cargo pants that wrapped his legs tightly. The television was on behind him and he could see the reflection of the grey-haired, glasses-wearing, white Vocelios Daily. Suddenly Vocelios’ voice caught his attention for he was discussing a series of suspicious outbursts of forest fires. “The sun seems to be setting for Greenwood Lumber, amidst a series of infernos. Greenwood Lumber lost its’ founder and then CEO five years ago in another tragic forest fire. The great, great majority of Greenwoods’ land holdings are now in flames. Vast forests in B.C., Quebec, Ontario, Alaska, and California burst into flames suddenly at approximately the same time today. Arson is highly suspected. In fact, authorities believe that Islamic terrorism may very well be involved. It is widely known that Allistor Greenwood was one of Canada’s major contributors to the cause of the state of Israel and its defense. His contributions have totaled into the tens of millions of dollars. Since his death, a fund was started in his name devoted to the support of the state of Israel. Osama Bin Laden in one of his recently released audio recordings is heard encouraging his disciples to sabotage the industry of the western world. He is even heard specifying the burning down of our forests. Allistor’s successor, Leona, has refused commentary. On behalf of our station we would like to sincerely give our condolences to Miss Leona Greenwood. Experts believe that Greenwood Lumber will never recover and will fold soon.” A picture of Leona was flashed on the television and that moment seemed like an eternity, for Justin saw her in that moment so beautiful, such a goddess, such a precious gypsy. He had already put down the weight and was seated now on an exercise bench. He hoped to meet her one day. And he seriously started to think about that substance, yet to be invented that would stop forest fires instantly. Because, to him, nature was not malevolent at all, and the two tragedies at the hands of fire, were not the result of nature’s conscious providence or some doomed fate. Destiny was not punishing Leona, certainly not, for being so beautiful, so intelligent, so talented, so successful. Nature was on his and her side, he knew. And so until he could discover the opportunity by which he would meet her, he would remain working for the Marine Unit of the Toronto Fire Department, located on Queen’s Quay West. The chief had enthusiastically welcomed Justin as part of the team. After ensuring that the company pension and the company emergency fund were intact and could provide for just severance pay for the thousands who would remain jobless, Leona Greenwood retired from the lumber industry forever. For five years since her father’s death, she still did not let herself engage in the activity of sad wailing that she knew would have to come some day. The emergency death blow that had struck her company—the consequent urgent need for the head executive to be at the utmost rational, patient, and diligent—could not allow her the long since promised lament. And now she was free. She left behind the forests of Northern Ontario for the granite, glass, and cement of Toronto. She moved into a penthouse condo at Spadina and Bremner, a skip and a jump to the Rogers Centre. Her suite was on the southeast corner so that her vista on the south was the vast waters of Lake Ontario, and on the east, the wall of rising towers which was the dominating skyline of Toronto. Her tower was fifty-six floors of grey-toned glass and industrial plastic, which gave its skin a silver, fish-scale-like illusion of geometrical perfection. On the roof in the middle, stretching from north to south was a white concave elliptical cylinder, which gave the entire structure the illusion of a very tall mast and sail. To contemplate the lake on a daily basis provided her with a constant comfort, a guardian against the memory of the infernos that had plotted to ruin her life. And the wall which was the city to the east of her, was a majestic barrier against the flames of the past. And then one morning she let herself feel. It was still purple in the east when, naked, she pressed her raised palms and forehead against the glass of a window, and closed her eyes, and breathed with effort. When she opened her eyes again the sky was metallic blue, and on the horizon she could see a small ball of fire. It was the sun. Her fear returned in that moment. “Have you come to get me too, Helios? Have you come to end the peace and tranquility, which is all I have left? Have you come to start and end my sorrow in one swift blow, one scalding scorch? Man has worshipped you since the beginning of time and yet you bring such doom—is that your final end? Are you my destiny—to be engulfed by you? The only man I have ever loved in any way—you consumed him: my father. My work, my sacred mission—was evaporated by you! And what is to become of me? Or have you come to watch me weep? Have you come to laugh at me, laugh like you always do when the beams of your laughter reach every man? And when my face is wet with tears and body drenched in sweat will you allow your rays to dry me?” But the sun did not answer; it just kept growing closer, brighter, perhaps more menacing. She watched him, Helios, marching closer and closer to his conquest of her and the world, until her eyes began to hurt and she had to fight the ensuing temporary blindness. She now only felt the sun by the pain in her eyes. And then it was time. She crashed to the floor and lay on the soft carpet, and cried, wailed, convulsed, shivered, choked, and screamed—finally. When it was over she rose from the wet carpet and smiled. It was over. The sky was now light blue and the sun was too blinding to look at. But she was not sad anymore. The sun of this day had set her free. And in that new moment she welcomed the sun again. The full context and benevolence of its energy came back to her. She thought of the Greek man who stole the fire of the gods and was punished by the gods, left chained to a rock to be eaten by carrion birds. And she thought about the other ambitious Greek who tried to fly to the sun on wings made of wax, and met his doom when the sun melted those wings. And she thought about the Greek philosopher who held the sun as the symbol of his intellectual enterprise, the ultimate goal of it, where men should seek to grasp the sun, the source of light and enlightenment, so that the holder can see the most. And that was the end of his goal and he asked not: what for? And she inferred that the story of Prometheus was a warning for men who want to know too much. And that the story of Icarus was a warning against those who think their mind is adequate enough to know the truth, but out of pretense. And the prescription of Plato was a recipe for lethargic insanity. And this was enough for now. All she had to remember was what there was still to live for? And this was it—to think like this. Philosophy was still the sanction of her life—though not necessarily for all—but it was for her, the individual. This was who she was: a philosopher. And she could afford the lifestyle. And it would be philosophy that would allow her to bear never falling in love or to taste a man. She was very conscious of the trauma that the two great losses of her life had caused. She was convinced that she was doomed never to experience the greatest of human ecstasy. Love and sex were not nature’s promise for every man. A person who has it within him or her to feel the depths and magnitude of sorrow that she had experienced that morning could never reach the heights of joy henceforth. Philosophy would help her along the way, though—thus was her lesson from the sun. She went for a walk along the lakeside in the afternoon. She sat on a bench by the fire station. She was accepting with serenity the destiny she had convinced herself of. And then she saw him. He was not tall but his body was proportioned and balanced. He was not skinny but lean and well sculpted, not bulky at all. His male beauty was not of that highest class, which borders on the feminine. It was a masculine beauty but it was fine; that point where masculine beauty escapes from the feminine but still dances among the highest class from which it has escaped. His nose was a perfect triangle, on a small but hard head. His skin was the color of a cashew nut. His eyes were brown but sweet, loving, and angelic. Though his face was fit for that of a warrior in the act of slaughter, it also was the face of a loving father holding his beloved infant. His head was shaved and black, though it may have been coffee brown. His skull had the quality that could serve as the standard for a master sculptor and his bust. His cheeks were thin, delicate, and flat, not too high, and not low; though they could promise a terror if one were to witness them in rage and fury. His hands were strong, a little bit rough, and a little bit long. His legs were thin but seeming large only because of their strength, perhaps the legs of a swimmer. His torso was compact but hard and well-trained. And she could swear that his pointed chin owned a dimple. His walk was calm, steady, relaxed, but his step was strong, when not in a hurry, and walking causally instead. The rhythm of his strides was even except for a subtle contortion of his buttocks: his left leg led, and his right followed, simultaneously raising his right buttock cheek as if it were winking at some pleased on-looker. It, and he, was truly adorable, she thought. She saw him enter the fire station. She waited for him to come out. Two hours later, he was rushed out hanging from the side steps of the fire truck, dressed in uniform. She bought a high-powered telescope that same night. The next morning, she arose just after sunrise. She sat at her station, fifty-six floors up, and surveyed the station. She sat there all day. She found that he was there a lot. But, also she found that he left for calls frequently. But so did others and he was left behind, for he was not hanging on the truck’s side, as he always was when he did leave the station. She knew what she would do the next day. She decided that it would happen in the afternoon, when most of her neighbors would be at work. She waited for the truck to leave on which he would not be on. She turned on the stove, set the element to highest, and let the egg on the pan overheat and burn, she poured an excess amount of oil, over the element, and soon a flame was born, which grew bigger and bigger. She had succeeded. She locked herself in her bedroom and waited. She heard the sirens start. When it was all over, and she had convinced Justin to carry her downstairs to ground level, she was bewildered by the mocking smile on his face. A few firemen stayed in the apartment to investigate the cause of the fire. The kitchen, living room, and den were ruined. Justin and Leona were alone in the elevator, and she held him tight. “Leona, my name is Justin.” “Justin, the fire was arson by my own hand.” “Why did you do it?” “So that I could meet you; so that I could meet you in the act of putting out my fire; so that I could love for the first time in my life, the hero who could save me from the flames. Beautiful angel.” “I’ve wanted to meet you since the tragedy of your father—and more so, since the ruin of your business.” “I will willingly face charges and pay for the damages.” “Yes, you must.” He looked at her with sincere reproach but was too glad to be holding her. She brushed his cheek and looked him in the eyes, “You are the Helios of my destiny, my destined romantic passion.” THE END.
  23. The Poetry Of Brian Faulkner

    The last three were very touching, especially the last--given my experience in the last month and a half. I've been doing good but I suffered a loss around the beginning, so these kind of remind that all is indeed good, despite by secret angry silent screams. Thanks! Jose Gainza.
  24. What's your favorite AR fiction *besides* her novels?

    I would say, that Ideal is my favorite because it made me ball my eyes out. No other non-published work of fiction had made me feel that. That one famous line of the heroine is priceless, the one about hero-worship. I more recently read RedPawn, and though it did not impact me like Ideal, it was an exciting experience to read something new of a more mateur Ayn Rand. Again, it was the idea: I don't believe I didn't read this sooner. I pay a tribute to it and Hugo's Hans of Iceland in one my short stories, the feeling that it inspires in me. But all the other stuff found in The Early Ayn Rand is too easy in the sense that I predicted too early what would happen. In Good Copy, though I love the plot twist and the drama, once I isolate that and appreciate that, I lose the thrill quickly. But it is still a great achievment in terms of the story idea. Think Twice was a pleasure to read but I knew what would happen way too early, so that the pleasure came from confirming what would happen and thus feeling close to Ayn Rand's psycho-epistemology in my own plot-ability. Jose Gainza.
  25. I will share my writings with this forum

    I just, re-reading it, got a short but helpful ending: For which I pine For which I pine: ...Your eyes ... And all of yoouuuuuuu ...