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Smells like victory

Archive for the ‘Death’ Category

Paul A. Toth

Secret Lives of the World’s Greatest Composers: Mozart

June 8th, 2012
by Paul A. Toth

Despite my ability to fluently write and speak thirty-nine different languages, the four Ph.D.’s I’ve earned, my work as an archeologist, forensic pathologist, pre-Socratic philosopher, neurological surgeon, mime, locksmith, zoologist, and janitor - despite it all — I could never rest until now, when I can finally share the results of the eighty-five years I’ve spent unveiling the secret lives of music’s greatest composers.

It started with a hobby, my part-time position as an unlicensed psychiatrist, which prepared me for this project. It may well be said that this physician failed to cure himself, much less his patients, but my gracious colleagues ensured me they, too, never failed to fail.

Born immune to the culturally-bankrupt “music” known as the blues, I found my succor in Western culture’s highest achievement: the arrangement of notes into compositions that required great minds to explain how the masses could pretend they enjoyed the greatest music the world has ever ignored.

Leaving that task to others, I instead chose to explore the lives of these almost-tolerated geniuses. I selected my subjects based on a simple litmus test: Had they served as the subject of at least one major motion picture?

And with that, let us begin with the obvious and regress to the oblique as we explore the secret life of Mozart.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in 250 A.D. to Roman parents, Irrititus Alotus, a hot-tempered shoes salesman, and Lustus Allmaleus, a seductive and highly-successful nymphomaniac. When pulled from the womb, Alotus immediately struck the boy in the head with a frying pan. Mozart, whose parents waited fifteen before naming their child, was rendered deaf in both ears and suffered brain damage as a result of the assault, which in turn led to the one factual element portrayed by 1997 film Amadeus: a mind-splintering giggle that would result in many more blows to the head.

To escape Alotus’ violence, Mozart fled to the Galapagos Islands in 1200 B.C., building a canoe with botched crosses imported from Jerusalem and employed as torture devices during Rome’s Spanish Inquisition.  Incredibly, modern scientific technology has proven Mozart the first human being to ever visit the islands.
Landing at Santiago, Mozart endured temperatures as low as 69 degrees. He survived by constructing a three-bedroom bamboo hut. In freezing temperatures, Mozart solved his boredom by studying the sounds made by birds and insects. Despite having never heard a single musical instrument or undergone the slightest musical training, Mozart translated these sounds into musical notes. Soon, he began carving his first compositions in tree trunks.

“The Tree Compositions” disappeared over the following 2600 years. Only one example remains. It was discovered by Charles Darwin in 1965 and immediately Fed-Ex’d to Art.com. But Darwin discovered something far more compelling in 1323, facts recorded but deleted from his never-completed journal, “Sex, Sex and More Sex.” By using MRI technology, forensic mythologists, aided by physician handwriting interpreters, recovered much of the deleted material in their examination of Darwin’s notes. In doing so, they revealed one of the biggest secrets of Mozart’s life.

In those passages, Darwin remarked upon observations he deemed unnecessary to his theory. The notes, rambling and nearly unintelligible due to the penicillin-resistant strep throat Darwin contracted in 1769, contain only a few lucid passages. One of those passages will forever change our understanding of Mozart.
Darwin writes, “One day on Santiago, while studying the Arctocephalus galapagoensis, I noticed that dozens of these creatures had apparently been violated in a region of the body the naming of which would be unsuitable for this journal’s audience. (Note to self: This may sell. Rethink decision later.)  I knew only one man had been to this island before me: Mozart. I recognized immediately that this supposedly- cultured man, barred from relations with women until he departed Galapagos in 1892, was the culprit, foisting himself upon these helpless creatures. With one mission remaining, I stopped in Haiti on my way home and consulted a witch doctor, requesting that he cast a curse upon Mozart.”

The Arctocephalus galapagoensis, or Galapagos fur seal, and specifically fur, propelled Mozart into a promiscuity that began the moment he returned to civilization. Leaving in the same craft that had carried him to Galapagos, Mozart eventually landed on the shores of Kazakhstan in 1899, completing a six-year journey. During the voyage, Mozart carved new compositions into the floor of his canoe, creating leaks and the need to drink and spit out the waters threatening to literally sink his ship.

Upon his arrival, the boat promptly disintegrated. Local villagers, frightened by the wig Mozart had taken to wearing during his Santiago years, grabbed the remaining boards and beat the composer out of what senses remained. From that day forward, Mozart, already deaf, lost the ability to feel, see, taste, and smell.
The villagers left Mozart to the lack of his lack of devices. He spent the night on the beach and, testing his abilities, learned that the only sound he could still produce was the giggle that had led to giggle. Tortured by memories of an unconsummated love for one of the seals, and tormented by hallucinations of frying pans, Mozart sprinted into the vast and flat plains populated by intellectually-vacuous peasants, a scene familiar to those who’ve visited Kansas.

As spears, arrows and rocks grazed his flesh, Mozart unknowing headed into the desert that would eventually become known as Russia. He arrived in Moscow, exploding with musical ideas and his sexual obsession with the fur seals he would neither forget nor ever see again.

He wandered the streets. At one point, which most historians date as occurring sometime between the years of 1498 and 1814, Mozart happened across a street pianist. Hearing the notes he had until then merely imagined, he frantically searched for the source, but he saw no birds or insects, only the man on a bench, tapping upon a strange device. Stopping between pieces, the pianist looked up and noticed the disoriented and half-naked human specimen now leaning on his piano, eyes closed. Assuming Mozart to be a narcoleptic idiot, the pianist took his unconscious superior to the local hospital. It was there that hospital records, only recently released by the Russian government, tell another secret tale.

Familiar with the disorder, Mozart’s doctors treated him by way of cocaine. Released from the hospital with a lifelong prescription for the drug, Mozart rode the White Pony for the rest of his years. Fortunately, the doctors had sympathized with the senseless, giggling composer, and before his departure, gave him enough money to support his living at hotel for two months. Mozart, walking on cocaine legs, covered the one hour walk in thirty-five seconds. The doctors, knowing his inability to speak, had made arrangements with the hotel, and Mozart was attended to with special care by the matron, one Zhamaryspechikov Zavajhanovovich, a widow whose inheritance had made her a wealthy business owner. Nevertheless, Zavajhanovovich was lonely and often “visited” her male lodgers late at night.

In this manner, Zavajhanovovich went to Mozart’s room at midnight. Upon opening the door, she witnessed the composer in a furious cocaine power-wanking session, in which it can be surmised that Mozart’s mind was filled with visions of fur seals. Knowing an opportunity when she spotted one, Zavajhanovovich stripped off her clothes and revealed another kind of fur, then pounced upon her willing prey. Mozart and Zavajhanovovich married half an hour later.
Now living permanently in the hotel, Zavajhanovovich taught her husband how to write. One day into the honeymoon, Mozart could communicate his thoughts in thirteen languages, and, except for his music, this provided his sole means of communication.

One morning, Mozart handed Zavajhanovovich a note in which he asked that she go to the market and purchase for him new ears, eyes, tongue, nose, and “if possible,” nervous system. When she responded with the silence of the stunned, Mozart jotted a second note: “Never mind. But please obtain 185 exterminators to eradicate the liquid spiders dripping from the ceiling, which is melting.”

Thus, we arrive at the solution to a psychiatric mystery. Often diagnosed as bipolar, Mozart instead developed paranoid schizophrenia from his constant use of cocaine. Recent studies solidified the diagnosis by revealing that 100 percent of paranoid schizophrenics hallucinated insects, birds and fur seals whenever listening to Mozart’s music via I-Pods supplied by researchers.

Deeply worried, Zavajhanovovich took Mozart to the office of a charlatanosk, the era’s equivalent of a psychiatrist. This charlatanosk, centuries ahead of his time, provided the exact treatment a modern psychiatrist would administer in such a case, doubling Mozart’s medication. This doctor, whose name remains unknown, became Mozart’s lifelong friend, and the doctor’s monthly requests for greater compensation were met with instant approval. Mozart recorded the sole in his diary. Having protested for ten minutes, he writes, “Liquid spiders began dripping from the ceiling, which was also melting.” He instantly paid the requested fee.

Mozart’s career left the launching pad in 1413, just as the Russian Revolution began. Zavajhanovovich, labeled a bourgeois capitalist by the newly-formed government, was arrested and sent to Siberia during what historians would later call “seventeen days that changed some of the world for a while.” Mozart proved immune to sorrow; he reports in his diary that he “never stopped imagining my sweet wife as a far sweeter fur seal.”

His career survived the chaos to come, then thrived as communist officials rushed to witness the “giggling idiot.” After expressing his desire to copulate with Stalin’s mustache, Mozart was arrested. Though originally pre-sentenced to death, Mozart’s fortunes turned when Stalin recognized that executing the world-renowned prisoner would create too great a public relations crisis. He was released in 1642 and sent to the czar, who proclaimed the composer a Hero of the Soviet Union.

The final secret of Mozart’s life regards his death. Long the subject of intense scrutiny and conspiracy theories, not to mention a good film plot, the secret facts can now be revealed. For reasons unknown but documented by the secret witness account left by Stalin himself and made public by a different dictator yesterday, Mozart’s final words - or word - proves the power of the supernatural: “Voodoo,” he said, and breathed his last breath. A Haitian witch doctor’s curse had killed one of the world’s greatest composers.

In honor of the dead hero, Stalin arranged for the shipment of Mozart’s corpse to Galapagos, where he was buried with 25,000 fur seals executed by NKVD guards in a “Soviet Supreme Sacrifice” attended by 65,000 birds, 3,000,000 insects, and the ghost of Charles Darwin. But one last secret occurred in Mozart’s afterlife, for Soviet secret police records note that Stalin had become so obsessed with the composer that he shaved his mustache, which was placed in the coffin that now rests somewhere beneath the florid surface of Santiago Island.


David S. Wills

Meeting a Messiah

November 11th, 2009
by David S. Wills

DAEGU, KOREA

His name was Daniel and I think he was a paedophile. Whether he was or he wasn’t, he certainly was a violent and delusional man, and his brief stint in my life was alarmingly full of coincidence and fear.

(more…)


D.R. Haney

The Dark Undone

November 6th, 2009
by D.R. Haney

LOS ANGELES—

The thought came to me when I was fifteen and trying to sleep on New Year’s Eve. Nothing I recall had happened to incite it. I’d spent the night babysitting my younger siblings while my mother attended a party, and she returned home around one in the morning and everyone went to bed. (My parents had divorced, though they continued to quarrel as if married.) My brother was sleeping in the bunk below mine, and as I stared at the ceiling and listened to the house settle, I thought: Why don’t you go into the kitchen and get a knife and stab your family to death?

(more…)


Paul A. Toth

My Siamese Twin

November 6th, 2009
by Paul A. Toth

SARASOTA, FL-

This has been what I call the Year of Ice. Colder than a shaved polar bear. Sayonara 2009. It’s been a year of pills, pills and more pills, until finally I seem to have reached some kind of treaty with bipolar disorder, which barely warrants discussion given that virtually everyone is now diagnosed as bipolar. Still, it’s important to note that when I write “ice,” I mean anxiety, yet when I write “anxiety,” I do not describe all attributes of “ice.” (more…)


Steve Sparshott

Access Small Areas

November 2nd, 2009
by Steve Sparshott

LONDON, ENGLAND-

Being disabled and not being a billionaire evil genius is a shite state of affairs.

After a six year trial period, I’ve decided it’s not for me. The problem is context—context being, supposedly, everything. You see, I didn’t spec my environment; I don’t have a hollowed-out island full of boiler-suited minions, with smooth floors and rapid, spacious lifts. I have London, and it’s a fucking disgrace.
(more…)


Gina Frangello

Pain is a Country

October 31st, 2009
by Gina Frangello

CHICAGO, IL-

When you enter the country of Pain, they confiscate your passport. You leave behind the things and people that used to feel important and familiar, in which you used to believe. Everyone in the new country is a stranger, though it scarcely matters because pain is really a nation of islands, and everyone who lives there lives alone.

In 1995, while my husband and I were visiting my best friend Tom in Barcelona, I became an unintentional and surprise immigrant in the country of pain. It happened overnight, and at first I did not realize I had “moved.” I believed I had a bladder infection. I’d had them before—many, in fact, even having been hospitalized for one as a child. Sometimes when I got one, I could not close my legs for the burning; I could not stop pacing the room; I urinated blood. But the agony was always temporary. You take your antibiotics, you take your pills that make your pee turn orange, you feel a little crazy for a couple of days and then it is done.

Except this time, it was not.

(more…)


Rachel Zients Schinderman

Cut

October 19th, 2009
by Rachel Zients Schinderman

SANTA MONICA, CA-

I got my hair cut and then my grandfather died. 

I knew one had nothing to do with the other, but for some reason, for months after, I was unable to cut my hair.  I wore my hair mostly in a ponytail or crumpled atop my head, but there was no hiding the split ends, its drab dullness.  Sometimes I just let it fall where it may, flapping and resting wildly on my shoulders. 

My grandfather would never have let his hair get into such a state.  He was a classy guy.  Always impeccably groomed.  He could pair stripes and plaid and pull it off with grand ease.  Sometimes he wore funny ties, ladies lounging in martini glasses and that kind of thing, but it was never cheesy – just pure sass.  Even in the hospital when he had been ill a couple of years ago, hooked up to machines, stripped of his beautiful clothes, his only wardrobe a hospital gown and sheet, I couldn’t help but notice that his nails were perfectly manicured, freshly buffed.  He was sleek and elegant, unique but classy.  He had been in retail, head of Gimbels, back in the day when Gimbels meant something.  So he knew about appearance. 

(more…)


Brin Friesen

Invisible Ink

October 17th, 2009
by Brin Friesen

VANCOUVER-

“I leave a lot out when I tell the truth. The same when I write a story. I’m going to start now to tell you what I left out…”

-Amy Hempel (more…)


Rich Ferguson

Karma Driving School

October 15th, 2009
by Rich Ferguson

LOS ANGELES -

Author’s Note: I want to thank Jessica Larsen for the photo that she took during her recent travels in Varanasi, India.

Let’s go back to the very beginning / get in that car / get behind the wheel / rev the engine to pure devotion / our each and every dream – sparkling motion / relearn brake, gas, and clutch / not so much to speed us through these streets / but to clearly see that our each and every action ripens into results / bad equals bad / good equals good / it’s not some tricky math / nothing like finding the perimeter of all human suffering / what it is is the world coming from us / not at us / karma driving school

(more…)


Laura Waldon

Comic Book Hero: A Case of Mistaken Identity

October 14th, 2009
by Laura Waldon

SALEM, MA-

When we were kids, we thought that our cousin Mike was the Incredible Hulk.

I can’t recall if Mike “suggested” to my brother Chad and me that he was the mean green man, or if Chad simply saw the resemblance and thought that he had uncovered the Hulk’s plain-guy identity, but we thought we were related to a comic book hero.

At the very least, we figured that Mike was Lou Forigno’s body double: he was a short, sculpted bodybuilder with a massive, muscular chest and arms, and he had that signature Lou Forigno/Patrick Swayze feathered hair. Certainly they wouldn’t overlook him as Forigno’s wingman to take a stunt-beating on-film.

We were maybe six and seven—Chad my elder by a year—when Chad charged the neighbor kids a nickel

(more…)


Steve Sparshott

Last Train

October 9th, 2009
by Steve Sparshott

LONDON, ENGLAND-

There was a figure on the wrong side of the railing. Hunched, legs dangling over the water, left hand on the edge of the brickwork clutching a smoking cigarette. I kept an eye on him as I passed; he raised the fag to his mouth with a sudden movement, inhaled and put it back down just as abruptly. (more…)


Ducky Wilson

The Pizza Hut Massacre

October 5th, 2009
by Ducky Wilson

BFE, TEXAS - 

“Someone lost his mind in there,” I tell my dog Tonya as we walk up the sidewalk to the abandoned Pizza Hut. I want to see inside.

Tonya yips at me as we approach the building then cocks her head low the way she does when she’s nervous about something.

“It’s ok,” I tell her, but I can feel it, too. The air turns heavy as we walk past a shrine for the people who died that September night. I realize that today is September and a chill skitters over me. Tonya gets one, too, for when I look down at her, the hair on the scruff of her neck bristles like a mane.

(more…)


Rich Ferguson

Of Road Dogs and Lives Lost and Saved (Part 1 of 2)

October 5th, 2009
by Rich Ferguson

LOS ANGELES -

Picture the scene:

I was fourteen—a confused puberty stew of zits, girl craziness, cracking voice, and crippling shyness. It was summer. My family and I were spending a week in a small Wisconsin town. My dad had driven me to a swimming area across the lake from our cabin. He told me he’d pick me up in a couple hours. Said I should stay put—swim, girl watch. Not to walk the three-mile stretch of lonely country road back home. I agreed. But after less than an hour, I’d had my fill of the murky brown water, and the locals that looked straight out of Guns & Ammo magazine.

(more…)


Ronlyn Domingue

How I Learned to Stop Worrying about Russians (Iraqis, North Koreans, and so on) and Hate War

October 1st, 2009
by Ronlyn Domingue

NEAR 91 DEGREES LONGITUDE-

I confronted eschatology too young. Although benign compared to some beliefs, my Catholic upbringing placed me at the sidelines of Armageddon—strange references to a kingdom come, the Second Coming, Judgment Day. I got queasy at the mention of the Book of Revelations. Sermons and syntactically-strained Bible readings led me to infer a tremendous destructive end to all life, human, animal, insect, plant. There were drawings in books, filled with fire, angels and demons, a sea of the damned. For a child, it’s impossible to reconcile a loving Father with one who will kill every one of his children with wanton violence. Children also don’t grasp metaphor.

(more…)


Don Mitchell

Tsunami

September 30th, 2009
by Don Mitchell

COLDEN, NY-

I wrote this some time ago and had no thought of posting it, but because the tsunami that hit the Samoas has been in the news and in my thoughts today, I dragged it out, made cuts, and offer it as a first-person tsunami account.

On Monday, May 23, 1960, in Hilo, Hawai’i, I was nearly killed through my own foolishness, and then, not an hour later, I began rescuing people who were already dead. I was 16.
(more…)


Brin Friesen

Loot II

September 30th, 2009
by Brin Friesen

HAVANA-

Somebody once said that at the end of the world there’s always a tourist and a whore fucking in a cheap hotel. If that’s here, that whore’s mother probably made the bed and had coffee ready for them after.

(more…)


Tyler Stoddard Smith

Some Thoughts on a “New Literacy” While Remembering Patrick Swayze

September 29th, 2009
by Tyler Stoddard Smith

HOUSTON, TX-

Pierre Bayard’s ode to philistinism, Comment Parler des Livres que l’on n’a pas Lus, or How to Talk About Books That You Haven’t Read is a unique experience. Upon completion of Bayard’s work (one wonders if Bayard himself ever read his own book), I found myself first outraged, then confused, and finally, a little constipated. I thought to myself, “How does this boorish Frenchman claim that a perfunctory flip-through of Anna Karenina should suffice for an understanding of St. Petersburg’s high society during that time—or Jasper, Missouri’s, home to the Double Deuce for that matter?” Can this Bayard be serious? Can we really talk—intelligently—about books we’ve never read?

(more…)


Rachel Zients Schinderman

My Fathers’ Daughter

September 28th, 2009
by Rachel Zients Schinderman

SANTA MONICA, CA-

I sit in my white Reem Acra duchess satin gown in a room on the second floor of The Metropolitan Club with everyone I know just downstairs waiting for me, the bride.

Down those great big stairs is Jay, my future husband.  My mother flutters about.  I am sure waiters are about to trip and spill green apple martinis all over me and ruin 13 months of planning.  I take a breath. 

My father is not by my side, not here to give me away.  He is dead.  A suicide when I was four.  This is the fact of my life I expect people to know about me instantly.  My defining layer.

Then there is Stanley, sitting right next to me, our knees almost touching, like a protector from errant waiters, his tuxedo jacket almost like a superhero’s cape.  He was once my step-father, now my adopted father.  I still feel a little like a liar, like alarms will blare and the truth police will arrive when I refer to him as my “father” though.

(more…)


Litsa Dremousis

Helen Falangus 1926-1974

September 22nd, 2009
by Litsa Dremousis

SEATTLE, WA-

In short stories, everyone’s grandmother smells like rosewater or lilies or, if she’s the antagonist, bears a faint whiff of venal decay.

I’ve had allergies since I was a little kid, so I don’t remember what Yiayia smelled like. I remember her voice, though, warm and encouraging and conspiratorial in the best sense, as if she and I were our own party of two, off to do something wildly fun and cultured but still ladylike, as she was of that generation.

(more…)


Don Mitchell

.308 Winchester

September 18th, 2009
by Don Mitchell

COLDEN, NY-

The summer after my father lost his business in the great tsunami of 1960 we were cash-poor. I was just 17 and managed to get a job with the Hawai’i State Department of Fish & Game, which oversaw much of Mauna Kea, a large mountain with a lot of wildlife on it, out of a ramshackle camp at Pohakuloa.
(more…)