Author Archive | Mark A. Rayner

La dolce vita

Dinosaur in shopping cart

It wasn’t always so easy. There used to be an anger in him. An emptiness that nothing could fill … nothing material anyway.

He fell through time and space, and into a kind of dream. And it seemed as though ages passed him by, the stars streaming through the sky as though he watched them in time lapse photography. A billion billion tiny wisps of light circling the sky and flaring out.

And when it all stopped, when the spinning ended, he was filled.

Though the cart was still empty.

Alltop has no idea what the fuck just happened there. Photo by mugley on Flickr.

Alexandra Leaving – a short history

This song is based on a poem by the Greek poet, Constantine P. Cavafy. His source material was a story from Plutarch about Mark Anthony, as he watched his allies and supporters leave Alexandra before his enemy Octavian attacked the city. The original poem is called “The god forsakes Antony,” and is a meditation on the vagaries of fate. It’s a beautiful and poetic warning that casts Anthony in a tragic light and encourages him to accept his end in a manly way. And there’s no doubt: he’s losing Alexandra, but he’s losing his life too. [Poem here.] Mark Anthony was a larger-than-life guy, and he came to a larger-than-life end.

Cohen kicks it up a notch, of course, and retools this legend for the 21st century. He makes this about personal relationships, and how we should face their endings.

My favourite line is: “Do not choose a coward’s explanation that hides behind the cause and the effect.”

Co-written by Sharon Robinson, who sings it beautifully here:

Alexandra Leaving

Suddenly the night has grown colder
The god of love preparing to depart
Alexandra hoisted on his shoulder,
They slip between the sentries of the heart

Upheld by the simplicities of pleasure
They gain the light, they formlessly entwine
And radiant beyond your widest measure
They fall among the voices and the wine

It’s not a trick, your senses all deceiving
A fitful dream, the morning will exhaust
Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving
Then say goodbye to Alexandra lost

Even though she sleeps upon your satin
Even though she wakes you with a kiss
Do not say the moment was imagined
Do not stoop to strategies like this

As someone long prepared for this to happen
Go firmly to the window, drink it in
Exquisite music Alexandra laughing
Your first commitments tangible again

And you who had the honor of her evening,
And by the honor had your own restored
Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving
Alexandra leaving with her Lord

Even though she sleeps upon your satin
Even though she wakes you with a kiss
Do not say the moment was imagined
Do not stoop to strategies like this

As someone long prepared for the occasion
In full command of every plan you wrecked
Do not choose a coward’s explanation
that hides behind the cause and the effect

And you who were bewildered by a meaning
Whose code was broken, crucifix uncrossed
Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving
Then say goodbye to Alexandra lost

Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving
Then say goodbye to Alexandra lost

Songwriters: Leonard Cohen / Sharon Robinson
Alexandra Leaving lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Pozo and Mr. Savage

Pozo and Mr. Savage, waiting for a train with Ivanka

They lived on the margins of society as a travelling entertainment act. A classic clown-and-baboon show, in the old Czech style.

They had terrorized a generation of Eastern European children.

Pozo the Clown (once known to his family and a series of bemused teachers, as Jirka Zdenec) found his lifelong companion and colleague at the German customs house, in Dresden. (Some years before it was firebombed.) It turned out that the young baboon, of the Red-Assed Dorling family, had been abandoned by a teenage Canadian singing sensation just weeks before. Pozo fell in love with the manic little primate immediately, and agreed to adopt him, and to pay for all the medical bills of the customs agents who had been caring for him.

Their career became the stuff of legend. Their stock-in-trade was children’s parties, but they’d also perform at conventions, trade shows, and if they were unable to book a gig when they rolled into town, they’d do a little bit of busking too. Mr. Savage was an accomplished pick-pocket, so when they ran into hard times – as they often did – they could still pay for Pozo’s heroin habit and Mr. Savage’s expensive tastes in raw flesh. (He preferred macaque heart whenever he could get it.)

Most days, they were just one step ahead of the law.

Today was no different, though they found themselves at a train station, practically deserted between the morning rush hours and the 13:04 express from Praha to Brno.

The train that Ivanka had fallen asleep waiting for – a nap that one day, she would tell her therapist, changed her life.

The End

Change your life with some satirical fiction …

Alltop doesn’t have coulrophobia, but monkeys do freak it out a bit. Amazing photo Daughter of the Circus by Michael Garlington. Get his book here.

Crazy like a fox

Sarah Palin, with a gun at her head

Reagan did a lot of this during the Reykjavík Summit with Gorbachev, but it was part of his strategy.

He was TRYING to make Gorby and the Russians think he was a maniac. Hell, maybe he would launch the nukes — he was that crazy. Though this did cause a breakdown of the talks at Reykjavik, mostly because Gorbachev had a panic attack, and just couldn’t face the ‘mentally deranged’ (Gorbachev’s description, not mine) President. Eventually, they signed SALT II.

Of course, nobody knew this except Reagan. He was convincing. I was convinced. My friends were convinced. We were pretty sure this was likely:

Regan

Oh well, it’s helped me write at least one novel.

Alltop is excellent at “duck and cover”. Awesome Sarah Palin cartoon by Zina Saunders.