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It is a whirlwind in here

It Always Ends In Kafka

Statue of Franz Kafka

A short story:

The old Rabbi moved slightly on his bed, and the young man raced over.

     “Yes, Rebbe?”

     The old Rabbi opened his eyes, showing the cast of death which had almost consumed him. “Ka … ” he groaned.

    The young man had been told the dying Rabbi would never regain his senses, and he did not know what to do. He was scared, almost horrified, but he leaned closer.

     “What is it? What do you want?”

     The old Rabbi struggled for breath. “Ka … Kaf …”

     The young man gazed at the face, saw its pallid features and the clouded eyes. He touched a shrunken cheek, raised his voice to a shout. “What is it? What can I do?” He could hear wheezing, the struggle for air. He put his ear directly over the gaping mouth.

    “Ka … Ka …” One last ragged breath, a low hollow whisper. “Kafka died for your sins.”

A Storm of Wind and Rain and God and An Elephant

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From: The Elephant Talks To God

The elephant surveyed the remnants of shattered trees, the gouged earth, and the still turbulent waves.

“You know,” he said, looking up at the storm cloud hovering overhead, “A herd of us on the rampage have got nothing on you, when the mood strikes. You trying to tear down in one night what it took seven days to create?”

“Six days,” noted the cloud. “On the seventh … ”

” … day you rested,” finished the elephant. “You gotta be patient with us lumbering beasts; after all, you didn’t give us fingers so we could count.”

“But I did give you memories.” said the cloud.

“I know,” said the elephant. “I haven’t forgotten.”

“And this display,” added God, “Looks far worse than it is.

Natural forces occur to keep my earth in a happy balance. Life is already reviving and reasserting itself.”

“Could you not be a bit more gentle?”

“My winds must go somewhere,” said God. “As you already mentioned, even elephants go upon the occasional rampage.”

“I’ve never done anything like this,” said the elephant.

“You’ve not seen yourself from the ant’s point of view,” answered God.

[Image] https://www.hindustantimes.com/rf/image_size_960x540/HT/p2/2018/02/02/Pictures/_6e2719ec-0809-11e8-90ea-37dc70df54a3.JPG

Kafka And A Hungry Bird Give Thanks

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[Franz Kafka and his sister, Ottla.]

In my novel, Kafka In The Castle, I fill in the many diary entries Franz Kafka either did not make, or destroyed after the fact. He would have made no references to an actual ‘Thanksgiving Day’, but I feel this is close enough.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

30 September 1917

There was a knocking at the window this morning. A polite and concise rap rap rap. It awoke me while the room was barely light.

Who could want me so early? And then again, an insistent rap rap rap. I was confused, wondering where I was. The panic of Prague weighted down the covers, and I was sorry I had opened my eyes. The room, the smells – even the bed – was not familiar, so I was both bothered and assured by the strangeness.

When I realized I was not in Prague – for who could knock on my third floor window – I remembered I was in Zurau, where things were different. Here my window looked onto a yard, and anyone could  be at it. Was there something wrong? Was Ottla after my help? I even wondered, as I searched for my slippers, if her young man had somehow arranged leave from the army, and after much travail had managed to reach the wrong room. I could understand that very well.

I walked hesitantly over to the window, and cautiously pulled back the curtain. Such a commotion ensued that I stepped back in some fright. A bird flew immediately past the glass, its wings frantic as it screeched in agitation. It had been perched on my window ledge, pecking away at the frame. Ottla says it may have been after insects or grubs settled in for the winter.

“Insects in the walls of the house?” I asked.  “Yes.” She was quite matter-of-fact.  “It is a warm place for them during the cold months.”  I was not inclined to argue with the logic, but neither had I thought I would be existing in such close proximity with the tenants of nature.

Houses for warmth and bugs for food. It is a blend of the base and the subtle which I can appreciate. Much – I like to think – as does the annoyed bird.

Sandy Oliver’s Dilly Beans

via Sandy Oliver’s Dilly Beans

Sandy Oliver’s Dilly Beans

Dilly beans are zesty and crispy, with an irresistible twang of salty, garlicky vinegar. More at PBS Food.

I once knew a man (alas, now dead – indeed, long dead) who made and gifted the most succulent dilly beans this side of the grave. Oddly, he lived (and pickled) just north of the Maine border.

Source: Sandy Oliver’s Dilly Beans

Trump And Kafka (and the silent President of Finland)Walk Into A Bar

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{I wrote this after Donald Trump was elected President of The United States of America. Many folk also looked at it after the glorious meeting in  Helsinki with Putin, Tzar of ALL The Russias. Now, the benighted President of Finland is in Washington, and shares a bizarre Press Conference with President Trump. A Kafkaesque Press Conference, one might say. So – play it again, Franz.} 
~ Frank. Welcome to your world.

~ Thanks, DT. I’ve been living it all my life.

~ I’ve taken some pages out of your books, Frank.

~ I did try to get them burned.

~ You didn’t try too hard.

~ Well – no.

~ You know – neither did I.

~ I know. They all ran to your tune.

~ They did.

~ You were the Pied Piper of Havoc.

~  Worked like a charm, Frank.

~ Yes, DT – yes, it did.

~ They thought I was a bug.

~ Yes.

~ But I turned them into bugs.

~That you did, DT. And turned them against each other.

~ Yes.

~ And stood back, and watched.

~ Pretty well.

~ To the victor goes the spoils.

~ I was astounded – believe me.

~ And they keep making the same mistakes.

~ I know, Frank.  I’d laugh if it wasn’t so funny.

~ The one-eyed man is King in the land of the Blind.

~ Yes, Frank – yes. But you know what?

~  What?

~ I’ve got great vision in both eyes.

[Image] https://sanatkaravani.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/franz-kafka-for-president.png

The Moose of October Get Hunted and Killed

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On a recent bus trip through the forests and hills and valleys, which offered kilometres of burgeoning Fall colours, and many other delightful distant scenes, this wee incident happened at a bus stop.

 

The bus went into a small village because a couple were getting off. The bus stop is in a parking lot of a Mall, beside a Tim Horton’s (I think).
Anyway, as the couple got off, a heavy-duty Ford pick-up drove in beside the bus. Attached to the truck was a a longish metal open-bed trailer. On the trailer was a deceased female moose. Perhaps it was too big to drape over the hood of the truck. This was a commonplace occurrence in the days of my youth. Or are those days long gone?

Buddy with the moose pulled up beside the Liquor Store.

Out he gets and walks with purpose into that fine establishment.

Intones the bus driver:

“There you have the perfect combination. A dead moose and a bottle of rum to celebrate.”

[Image] https://photos.travelblog.org/Photos/127380/421162/f/4082807-Female-Moose-Cow-0.jpg

OktoberFest & Beer in Munich – Dance & Enjoy

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ST is famous for his discoveries about Space and Time – hence the initials. He is fodder for magazine and movie fantasy. His is the life from which envy is made.    
 

Fame is a seductive life sentence. ST suffers consequences as he strides the red carpet.

In Fame’s Victim, ST ends one century attending Oktoberfest in Munich,  the biggest party in Europe, and starts the next hiding away from the world’s Press that hound him for his opinion of the Y2K problem. He is there with his lover movie star, also in disguise. His pet name for her is Garbo.

 

Excerpt From Fame’s Victim:

UM PA PA! UM PA PA!

Kafer’s Wiesnschanke seems not to be a `tent’, but a permanent wooden structure, with lattice at the front. There is outdoor seating, and strings of lights along the peak of the roof. At this time of night guests to the interior are handpicked. No one has given him an invitation or a code word, or any such means of identification. He has not had to prove who he is for so long that he really doesn’t know of any way other than the removal of his disguise. He could show his passport or driver’s license, but the photo displayed doesn’t display him.

People sitting outside give him a once-over, just as they do to all the crowds washing by. Oktoberfest is a people-watching event, but at this time of night, after a festival of beer, there is a sameness and a tiredness to their actions. He has no reason to fear a close scrutiny. ST walks briskly through the seated people and approaches the main entrance. Waiters and waitresses come and go through the door, liter mugs of beer held aloft. There is a small table to the left, and a man wearing a hat sits on a stool behind it. This is obviously the person whose scrutiny ST must meet and pass. He prepares a firm handshake, and a brief explanation of who he is.

From the corner of his eye he sees a figure approach. From its size and build it appears to be a woman, but she is wearing a Harlequin costume and holding a Venetian Sun Mask in front of her face. The gold (it looks like real gold) mask is attached to a long, slender stick, and the hand holding the stick is gloved.

Gloved hand, stick, gold mask and harlequin-attired body all lean toward him. ST is tempted to back away, but an exotic perfume reaching his nostrils is too enticing. He is sure his own disguise will not reveal his identity, so he affixes his fake beard smile.

“Psst.”

This sound hissed in his direction seems to be a woman’s voice. Perhaps he is to be asked the time or offered some cut-rate passage to the giant Ferris Wheel. Both have already happened this evening. Some response seems expected and ST decides to resort to his rusty German.

“Bitte?”

The eyes blink behind the mask and an irrepressible giggle is barely muffled by a gloved hand.

“Annie’s crackers. That better be you.”

“Garbo?” ST takes a surprised step back.

“I was about to take a bite from your cookie.” She removes her mask. “If that wasn’t you, I would have either made an enemy  or a friend I don’t want.”

“What are you – ?”

ST can’t tell if he is more surprised by the presence of his lover, or by the fact he didn’t recognize her. As he ponders he hastily pushes her hand so the mask is once again in front of her face. What they both don’t need is the exposure of the beautiful, young movie star. For if she is recognized, will ST be far behind?

“You don’t want to look at me?”

“I don’t want others looking at you.”

“Mmmm.” Garbo steps close and rubs against him. “Jealous?”

“No more than usual.”

This generates a snort from Garbo and a thwack over ST’s head with the mask. She still finds it hard to accept he doesn’t get jealous, even about the explicit love scenes in her last couple of movies.

“Then what?”

“Garbo.” ST leans toward her. “We’ll lose our concealment.”

“If we’re being so secretive, don’t call me that in public.”

ST realizes even he is affected by their disguises, for otherwise her pet name would not have been uttered. Garbo is very particular that this name is for his use alone.

“But we’re not even supposed to be in public.” He looks around at the mass of revellers. “I’m here because – ”

“I arranged it.” Garbo giggles again.

“You what?”

“Do you know … ” She lowers her voice, making her words barely audible through the mask. “You look surprised, even through that beard.”

This is a dig at his array of beards. She is far more comfortable with the recognition she receives. ST assumes this difference between them is partly due to her age, and partially because of her business. But he is not above retaliation.

“Who’s wearing the mask?”

“I’m supposed to be a surprise.” Garbo shakes her head, deliberately making the bells on her Harlequin cap jingle. “You are already on the agenda.”

“Let’s not stray off topic.” ST reaches forward and flicks one of the bells. “What do you mean you arranged it?”

“You were asked to come here, because I asked them to ask you …” She jingles the bells again. “… to come here.”

“Garbo!”

His voice rises as the name-not-to-be-used spills into the night. ST avoids a hit on the arm and puts his mouth next to her ear.

“Garbo.” Her name is now spoken slowly but quietly. “Why did you do such a thing?”

“To get you out of the mansion.” Her lips are close to his ear, but she is not whispering

“Let’s get this over with.”

“Mr. `Life-of-the-party’.” Garbo shakes her own finger. “You need to sing and schunkel.”

“Schunkel?”

“Hook your arms with those of your neighbors, and weave back and forth while singing lustily.”

“I don’t plan to sing – lustily or not.”

“Oh, yes you do.” Garbo links her arm through his, and starts to pull him toward the entrance. “Timely or not.”

She maneuvers ST past the man sitting at the table, and aims for a large, dirndl-encased woman standing at the far side of the door. She has the girth to block the whole doorway by herself, and ST has some hope that she will stop them.

“Remember – you’re with me.”

Garbo chuckles as she says this. When they are a few steps away from the door she lowers her mask and smiles that smile which charms millions. Even though the woman must have been expecting them she looks surprised, and then delighted. She makes a little bow, then opens her arms as if to embrace them.

“Wellcommen. They will be so pleased. The mayor keeps sober until you arrive.”

“That’s asking a lot.” Garbo replaces the mask in front of her face, and tugs ST toward the interior. “We have not expected such a sacrifice.”

“Why not?” ST directs the bearded question toward her ear. “I’ve kept myself without lubrication so I can appear here in fine form.”

“But you have me to get intoxicated on.” Garbo pushes him through the door. “You don’t need vile alcohol.”

“But there is going to be some, isn’t there?”

“Annie’s crackers – it’s Oktoberfest.” She pulls him forward. “It’s a feat you’ve managed to stay sober this long. Now it’s time for your reward.”

Garbo turns toward the table of officials and lowers her mask. The grim face of the dignitary ready to bar their way changes in a second, replaced with a broad smile. He holds out his hand to shake, though obviously debating whether or not to give her a hug. The temptation is great, and the occasion offers a license to such familiarity. Garbo avoids the situation by holding her mask out between them, and pointing toward ST.

The official stops momentarily, the smile trapped on his face. He is confused, wondering if he is being introduced to a bodyguard or some secretary, equivalent to himself. Garbo smiles, and sings a couple of lines from `Don’t Shortchange Us.’ She sings loudly enough to be heard by the other officials at the table, and immediately two heads whisper into the mayor’s ear. The man jumps up, his chain of office clanging against the beer stein in front of him. He pushes past his own officials, and makes a lunge for ST’s hand.

“Mein Herr. Welcommen!”

The mayor’s grip is so forceful that ST is again pulled off stride and they both bump into the table at the same time. The heart shaped gingerbread cookie around ST’s neck gets caught in the mayor’s heavy chain, and they are pulled together as they try to come apart. ST smells the beer on the other man’s breath, and has a pang of envy. Alcohol would be a relief right now, Glen Grant or not.

“We do a little dance – yes?”

The mayor is laughing, but ST realizes that he may be in some danger of losing his disguise. He doesn’t plan any further excursions tonight but his life proves unpredictable, and he can never be sure. Plus, the pull of glue from his face will not feel very pleasant or look very dignified. He can neither escape, nor risk the energetic contact his dancing partner encourages.

“Does this mean you have no time to dance with me?”

Garbo eases herself close to the two men. She stands in such a way that she could be speaking to either of them. They are confused and stop moving. Garbo reaches over and using both hands, manages to untangle the ornate mayor’s chain, and the string which the giant cookie hangs from. She winks at ST, then nudges against the mayor with her hip.

“Or do you boys prefer each other’s company?”

ST takes note of the most flamboyant dancers on the floor, and starts to copy their steps. Garbo is initially surprised, but quickly follows his lead. She is prepared to match his every move, and ST is determined to make her lose her step. Other revellers make room for them, and some even start to clap to the music. The bandleader has noticed the commotion, and after watching the couple for a minute turns the beat around to their rhythm. By this time even the mayor’s table is back on their feet, thumping their beer steins on its slippery surface.

“Bring it home, Mamma!” shouts the mayor.

Garbo growls with laughter as ST puts a hand on either side of her waist, and lifts her from the floor. She places her hands on his shoulders, and kicks back with her feet. ST actually aims her in different directions, and other dancers dodge away, squealing in delight.

“And another thing.” Garbo is panting and shouting into his ear at the same time.

“What would that be?” ST precariously leans back, almost losing his balance as he lets her slide to the floor off his chest. He twirls her on her stomach before he scoops her up again, and grips her hard against him.

“You’re heading into two months of Millennium stuff?”

“Yes.”

“And it’s going to be serious?”

“Yes.”

“Then ya gotta have some f-u-n.” She throws her hands over her head and leans way back, knowing he is not going to let her go. “And what better place is there than the biggest party in Europe?”

As she presses against him again he has a different answer to her question, and he whispers it into her ear. Her eyes go wide, and she brings up her hand in a motion to slap his face.

But she kisses him instead.

[Image] https: /thefederalist.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Oktoberfest-Packages-2015.jpg

Are These Three Cruise Ships Birthday Bound?

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I saw three ships come sailing in
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
I saw three ships come sailing in
On Christmas Day in the morning.
 
I didn’t see all three cruise ships coming in, only the last one. But, even so, why not assume that they have arrived for me on my birthday? And if it puts me in the company of Jesus and Mary, I’m more than happy to have them along. And if “All the bells on earth shall ring” and “All the Angels in Heaven shall sing”, well, I’m happy to ring & sing along with them.
 
An additional jog to this nautical (though not celestial) theme is that today is also International Talk Like A Pirate Day (which attempts to usurp the wonder of my birth). And, I bet if we search long enough, we’ll find that no pirate no where ever said “Arrr, Matey!” Still, one takes what one can get, so “Arrr, Happy Anniversary of my birth to me.”
Oh – and, yes – 19 September is indeed classed under the perfect Virgo sign.
 
Google informs me (*personally*, of course) of the high points and low points of the day (103 days left in the year)(English forces under Edward the Black Prince defeat French at Battle of Poitiers and capture the French King during the Hundred Years War)(first commercial laundry established, in Oakland, California)( Gustav Mahler’s 7th Symphony premieres in Prague).
 
I am also informed of those famous folk lucky (and, I assume, more than happy – if not ecstatic) enough to be born on the same day as I am. So far (for some reason) I am not gathered into their ranks, but Time is a fickle master and I’m not holding my breath.
 
So, later today, I will go to the harbour and cruise along beside the Cruise ships. I doubt I’ll be invited aboard, or even offered to quaff some champagne.
 
Some things, even on your birthday, you just have to do yourself.

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