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The Lure of the Sequel

The next Buttman book is coming soon. A few thoughts on it.

Monk Buttman Mysteries

I wrote Where Fools Dare to Tread on a lark. It started as a way to breakout of a hole I’d dug writing another book-still on the backburner-that I didn’t quite feel I could pull off. But I had too good a time writing Where Fools Dare to Tread and when that was finished, promptly thought, “Well, where does he, Monk Buttman, go now?”

Having already run him around LA and northern California, the thought occurred that maybe it was time for him, reluctantly, to face his past, which brought him back to California after his marriage to Astral-Lilith to everyone not named Monk-fell apart. And because his time in Virginia presented him with the demands of family and faith, I decided that would be a good direction in which to go. Lots of fertile ground when God and family are invoked.

Throw in an unhappy daughter with whom he…

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Don’t Leave the House!

Turns out cars are dangerous!

Who knew?

I thought all of us knew! Big heavy things hurtling down the street can bring a host of bad things to us puny humans. I’m pretty sure that’s why we were told as kids not to play in the street.

Am I being facetious? I am.

Part of my beef with the aforementioned article is that it assumes cars are some kind of irrational demon that attacks without conscience and that autonomous self-driving cars will be no better than the ones now being people driven. It also presumes no general benefit from all the safety measures added to cars in recent years and that the answer is not smarter cars, but fewer of them.

There’s a cold dead hands joke there but I’ll let that pass.

As always the instrument or tool is to blame rather than the operator. While cars are getting smarter and more sensitive, like our ubiquitous phones, people are not. In fact the main thrust of the article ought to be not that we need fewer cars, but fewer drivers. They, rather than the cars, are the problem. As noted, cars are becoming far more complex, feeding us more and more information which most of us ignore, disdain, or don’t understand.

Like our phones, our cars require a kind of attention we seem, at times, ill equipped to handle.Still, fewer people are dying because of cars than in the past. Cars are safer and more protective-of the people inside. The article, mostly, is about all the bad things that can happen when one is struck by a car, particularly to pedestrians and bicyclists. That’s not new-everyone I know has a story involving accidents, but almost none of them would consider getting rid of cars.

What we need to get rid of are distractions. That’s a coy way of saying phones. The next time you’re in a car, as a passenger, note all the drivers on their phones. If there is an uptick in accidents and deaths, I’ll go on the record as saying phones are behind it. Everywhere and in every act, people are tethered to their phones and give them their divided attention.

Driving, as has been stressed for decades, requires your undivided attention. Cars on their own do not kill people. People driving those cars do. That is part of the whole autonomous self-driving car thing-doing away with inattentive drivers. That requires an incredible amount of incoming information from the car itself to other cars, and pedestrians, cyclists, and any other vehicle it might encounter.

The question is whether it makes us any smarter in how we interact with big heavy things hurtling down the road. As much as drivers are inattentive to people walking and biking, the same can be noted of walkers and bikers, and that’s one of the big things self-driving cars have to be “aware” of. People seem surprised when I mention this, but you’re expected to make yourself know to oncoming traffic. Yes, they should be looking for you, but I can’t count how many times I’ve seen people walk into the street shielded by parked cars and never look to see if anyone is coming. I’ve seen bikers ride through red lights without stopping-a few coming close to being killed. It is, as they say, a two-sided street.

You can be angry about that, but big heavy thing will win out everytime. And as the author ends her article: Until then, the streets will belong to the death machines.

I’ll be inside if you need me.

©2019 David William Pearce

Moses and the Soil

Another short Vignette from Where Fools Dare to Tread, A Monk Buttman Mystery. In this Monk and his father, Moses, argue about life.

Monk Buttman Mysteries

Moses is Monk’s father, who, along with the Mackinaw brothers founded the commune where Monk grew up. Moses and Monk do not see eye to eye on many things. This is fromearlier in Monk’s life, when he was young and still living on the farm.

“Take it in your hand, take hold of it.” Moses took a handful of dirt from where I stood and put it in my hands. “Feel that? Compress it; run it through you fingers; smell it; it is the foundation of our lives, the soil that forms our bodies, our connection to Mother Earth!”

Yeah, yeah, yeah!

I didn’t care. It had been a long day and I was tired. What I wanted was to go into town and have a cheeseburger platter at the Big Boy, not stand here with a handful of dirt! I’d had more handfuls of dirt pushed on me…

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Junk and the 13 Year-Old Mindset

Occasionally, I find myself aghast at what has become of manhood-laugh if you must-or perhaps the better phrase is: being a man. But I still cling to the notion. I was reminded of this when reading of a woman’s efforts to build a digital filter in order that she not be bombarded in her social media by “dick-pics”.

And apparently, this is not a fringe problem: many women, and men, are subjected to it.

As a way to explain my aghastness, let me tangentially note what being a man once meant, and yes, I realize this will not be historically accurate for all men through time.

It meant being a grown-up, an adult.

Grown adult men do not surreptitiously, or otherwise, send picture of their “junk” to women or men they don’t know, thinking they’re being clever or cute or- I’m amazed they might even think this- it might turn the recipient on. That’s the kind of thinking 13 year-olds engage in.

Yeesh.

Evidently, we have so eroded the idea of responsibility, of personal respect and respect for others, that this is so commonplace in social media, that in exasperation it has to be filtered out, that you have to add an app for that, simply to not be offended, aggrieved in the true legitimate sense, or exhausted by perile immaturity on a day to day basis.

You wonder if any of the billionaire boys who gave us the internet as it is today gave any of this any thought? I’m thinking no, but hey, as they like to say in order to evade any responsibility: we’re only the platform and it’s free speech, right?

Again: yeesh.

Now you may say that I’m being cantankerous or old-fashioned and I’ll cop to that. You may even chide that I’m out-of-touch or have an idealized notion of manhood, adulthood, whatever. Perhaps, but there are worse things and as the current occupant of the White House displays nothing that was once associated with presidential decorum and respect for the office and institution, I remain a staunch advocate for growing up, being responsible- note I didn’t use the word “act”- and recognizing that rather than a burden, it is something to be proud of and nurture in your own kids.

Lastly, using the term “junk” to describe your genitalia is neither endearing or enticing. It’s equating it with something of little value or worth. It’s like sending a pic of a rusted out wreck and going, “Huh, huh, huh?” Quite the turn-on.

Well, to a 13 year-old.

©2019 David William Pearce

Magically Delicious?

On occasion, it is useful to look back and ask the tough questions we may have evaded or ignored in our youth. Like is this any good for me? As if we asked ourselves those kinds of questions when we were 10.

In that spirit, I shall endeavor to answer the pressing questions of yesterday.

During a recent moment of weakness, pique, impulse, whatever, I decided that what I really needed, no wanted, was to relive my fantasy childhood by buying and eating Lucky Charms and Pop Tarts. I say fantasy because for the most part my mother disdained buying them in my youth because they were expense and not terribly nutritious.

Shocking, I know!

Fortunately, mom was not there to impede my purchase and my wife, more or less, went along with it, mainly to see if her memories of these delightful breakfast treats jibed with her memories of the past or clashed with the cold harsh reality of now. Money in hand we made our purchase.

My review:

If nutrition is your main focus, then I can’t say that Lucky Charms and Pop Tarts are any better for you at 50+ than they were when you were 10. Three quarters of a cup of Lucky Charms and half a cup of Skim (?) milk sets you back 150 calories, 10 of which are from fat. I used whole milk because skim milk is basically water and if you’re going to drink milk, drink milk! The difference, for those who care, is 40 calories, which is equal to a bite from a donut.

But I’m straying from the subject at hand.

The ingredients are the usual mixed bag when it comes to industrial cereals, meaning along with your whole grain oats you get trisodium phosphate, which is what I use to wash the grease and grime from vertical surfaces before painting. Yum. Apparently, a little goes a long way.

Esthetically, the only noticeable difference in the cereal, from that distant time when I didn’t know better, is that there are now more marshmallow shapes, namely unicorns to go along with the hearts, moons, rainbows, and clovers. Oh, and horseshoes. This may have something to do with the unicorns.

As for how it tastes, I could discern no difference from how I remembered them, nor in how I ate them, which is to eat the cereal part first, before it turns to mush, and then the marshmallows, which are the best part. My wife noted that they still squeak against her teeth. She’s not a big fan.

The Pop Tarts she liked.

And, as an added bonus to this trip down memory lane, the back of the box has a fairly inane game of follow the marshmallows to distract from the food fest being shovelled into one’s yap, as our mouths were once referred to.

All in all, I’d do it again, assuming I live to be 100.

Bon appetit.

©2019 David William Pearce

A Day on the Job

Short vignette featuring characters from Where Fools Dare to Tread, A Monk Buttman Mystery.

Monk Buttman Mysteries

Monk’s job is as a courier/go-between/contact man for the law firm Aeschylus and Associates. In that capacity, and because their clients are somewhat eccentric, he often finds himself in, for him, interesting situations.

“Yes?” A fairly stiff older gentleman was
less than excited with my ringing the doorbell. I, on the other hand was rather
amused.

“I’m from Aeschylus and Associates,” I
informed him.

“And?”

Apparently he would need more.

“Is there a Torvas Takalagas here? This
is the address I was given, and while I’m sure you’re interested in my
intentions, I’m afraid I can only speak to Mr. Takalagas.”

“And yet you feel the need to speak to
me.” A wan grin crossed the old man’s face.

I had no answer for that.

He allowed me in and pointed to an alcove by the door. “Please wait here.”

He left, I assumed, to inform Mr.
Takalagas.

I waited…

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Blessed are the Meek

Let us on this day say a final prayer for our beloved team. Whether they deserve it is another matter. That the season thus witnessed is best buried, unlamented and unloved, in that unmarked graveyard in the back of our collective memory is all for the best.

Amen.

Perhap a prayer, instead, should be said for those tempered souls for whom this season was dedicated, for surely it is they who are worthy of such. Then again for what is prayer worth when little is expected and those expectations met?

I note all this while watching the MLB playoffs, which haven’t featured the Mariners since 2001-the longest playoff drought in pro sports. This inevitably leads to the whole notion of being a sports fan and having a favorite team to root for.

That is not, dear readers, an idle thought.

I find I have not lost an interest in the sports themselves, predominantly baseball and football, but in recent years I find myself less and less interested in being the fan of any particular team, mainly because the payoff is often obscure and the cost not worth the possible ROI-return on investment. This is illustrated nicely by the recent seasons of our Seattle Mariners. While coming close to playoff contention in the previous 2 seasons, the understanding by the cognoscenti was that they didn’t have it in them, as constituted, to compete, that the team was too old and too expensive, so…

With that in mind, they decided to start over, or as the say in the sportsbiz: rebuild. This necessitates gutting the team and testing the patience of the fans.

To which I ask: Why on my dime? What benefit do I derive from the prospect of bad, if I mean to be critical, or maturing, if I mean to delude myself, play from a team that has no reasonable expectation of being competitive, other than being gouged of my entertainment dollar? Will the team be lowering prices, offering bargains, gimmicks, something to better endure the prospect of a 100 loss season?

The answer is no.

But they do want to upgrade the splendid ballpark us taxpayers built for them, so as to lesson the impact of the follies occuring on the field. For what so stirs the wearied fan’s soul than infrastructure improvements, a better sound system-to better pound out the same tired sports tunes-and a new bar for better inebriation.

How about a better team!

There is also the distinct possibility that nothing will come of this, that prospects and draftees will not pan out or, as is common in Mariner lore, make it big after leaving. Thus, I believe, it is better to make peace with the notion of fandom and let go of any particular team because in truth…

They don’t love you and are really only interested in your money.

Harsh? Perhaps, but proven time and time again by example.

So let us pray that the postseason is entertaining, because the regular season, certainly in this part of the baseball world, was not.

Amen.

©2019 David William Pearce

Rebekah Stops By

Short vignette from the book, Where Fools Dare to Tread. Rebekah is a prominent character in the next Buttman book, A Twinkle in the Eyes of God, due out in early January.

Monk Buttman Mysteries

Rebekah is Monk’s somewhat estranged daughter, somewhat because she lives in Virginia and he’s out in LA. Throw in that he’s adverse to carrying a phone and she’s going through a rough patch in her marriage with her husband, Farrell, and the not so insignificant fact that they’ve seen little of one another in the six or so years since he left, and their relationship is tentative at best.Rebekahisstoppingbyaftervisitinghergrandfather,Moses,wholivesinNorthernCalifornia.

“This is where you live?” Rebekah, my
daughter, was not impressed with my quant little bungalow.

“This is it,” I said, confirming her
impression. “Why, what did you expect?”

“I don’t know, something different, I guess.”

She stood at the door.

I didn’t expected her, hadn’t seen her in
six years. My last memory of her is saying goodbye that sad summer’s eve and
her rather blunt, “ok.” I sent my address, somewhat reluctantly, to her a few
years back and…

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Longing For Our Robot Overlords…

There are moments when, alas, all seems lost or maddeningly chaotic, and I’m not just talking politics here!

Though, in truth, I’ve veered from politics because it induces spectacular headaches for the five of us left who foolishly believe we act as rational beings. Turns out this is false. Rational beings are a false dichotomy. We are all emotional response beings, and as such are easily and inevitably manipulated.

This is all coming clear to me as I read Yuval Noah Harari’s 21 Lessons for the 21st Century.

For those of you who like to think we’re in control and aware, or woke in the popular parlance, this book will disabuse you of that belief. I don’t say that lightly: I considered myself to be the same. But the more I inquire, the more I pause and consider my own responses, the more I see he’s right. We are all barrelling down the same road of manipulation and outrage to our psychic and physical demise for the purposes of personal enrichment by those who assured us that their disruptions will do no long term harm.

Politics anyone?

As a rejoinder to this, I direct my energies, my hopes and dreams; my delusions, to the perhaps strange, but highly likely future where our, hopefully, benevolent robot overlords take care of all the important and pressing needs that seem to have died on the vine in our fractured political landscape.

That will allow us imperfect humans to utilize, or waste, our time and energy on all the vacuous nonsense that is slowly killing us already. No need to worry about food supplies, power production; even warfare! All that can be handled by AI instructed machines while we are systematically manipulated by other AI programs that have continuously monitored and tracked our responses and outrages over such important things as whether our favorite celebrities, real or not-and the fake ones are already a part of social media-are being loved or dissed, whether the earth is flat, along with our thoughts and feelings on race, gender, marriage, death, you name it.

And, if this drives you to hole up somewhere in the wilds of the frontier, assuming it hasn’t already been sold off to the oligarch billionaires running the planet and owning the very robot overlords looking after us, then good luck with that when your uncontrollable desire for Cap’n Crunch inexplicably drives you back (AI can also track and manipulate your addictions, intended or not) because you can’t live without it.

Now it’s possible, since machines are not the product of genetic predispositions to emotional responses honed over a million years, that the use of AI and the algorithms that define and direct how AI collates and compilates the data it collects on us humans will be of a beneficial nature to us humans.

Anything is possible.

Whatever it is, given the situation on the ground, as they say, it can’t be any worse that it is now.

I think.

Next I believe I’ll rant about the world being flat.

What do you think, HAL?

©2019 David WIlliam Pearce

Miguel and James

Characters from the first book, Where Fools Dare to Tread.

Monk Buttman Mysteries

Miguel and James are friends of Monk from when he was a kid. This scene takes place years before when they were dealing weed as teens.

“It’s a sure thing, man!” James had that look, we knew it from all the other times he had a sure thing.

Miguel wasn’t so sure. “I think its bullshit! I think we’re fucking up here, screwing around with these guys. My cousin says we gotta be smart, and messing with the Pronto’s ain’t smart.

“Are we going or what?” I asked. I had
other things to worry about. Lisa was bugging me about the baby and Moses was
hounding me about my new responsibilities, and though I didn’t say it to them,
what the three of us were up to.

“It’s a easy score,” James insisted,
“reliable, man, I’m telling you…”

“Telling us what?” Miguel demanded.

James was unhappy with the question. “Come…

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