Thus is his cheek the map of days outworn.
William Shakespeare

People remain what they are even if their faces fall apart.
Bertolt Brecht

Entropy Gradient Reversals
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Over the Hill

RageBoy® turned 50 this week, and while his visible appearance betrayed no telltales of existential turmoil at the fact that half a century has passed since that gray November day he came screaming into the 1947 postwar world, those of us who know him best could see he was inwardly struggling with the implacable advance of cruel time. "What's on your mind, old boy?" we asked last Wednesday, but all he would say was: " Chicks." Poor guy.

We keep him around at EGR because he sometimes does add a certain flair, though he's utterly useless when it comes to getting this already intermittent publication out. "RB, why not whip up an issue on whatever it is you're working on these days?" we cajoled, thinking that actually offering the opportunity -- the only times he's written here have been when we were away on Important Business and he managed to hack into our system -- might lift him from the funk he was clearly sinking into from overmuch reflection on his own mortality. But the reaction this brought was an instant bout of violent paranoia. "By the way, what are you working on?" we finally inquired after he'd broken several priceless Ming vases by apparently trying to fax them to some destination we'll likely never know.

"Oh, nothing," he replied in an almost girlish voice, suddenly nonchalant.

Nothing indeed. Just last month he built a 30-foot sculpture on the front lawn, a hideous thing straight out of Hieronymous Bosch's worst nightmare. It vaguely resembled some towering demon whose insides were exposed, revealing the twisted visages of people it had devoured, some still whole, but most with gruesomely severed heads and limbs. "The neighbors are still complaining about that, you know," we reminded him. "And several want to know what 'kernel32.dll' means" -- that being the title he'd emblazoned on this ghastly work in lurid typography nearly as tall as himself.

"Oh, nothing."

"Then what about your sudden need for so much file storage?" We really didn't want to pry, but it was hard to ignore the UPS and Fed-X trucks arriving at EGR World HQ with surprisingly large crates of multi-terabyte disk drives from discount computer supply houses. Discount or no, we have to pay for these little indulgences whenever RB's sanity goes into remission. Which it does frequently. "And why have you bookmarked so many warez and MP3 sites lately?"

"No reason."

Well that much was already apparent. We really didn't need the disclaimer.

Truth be told, we're more than a little concerned about old RB. And even the readers -- well, some of those few not yet wholly drowned in the torpor of their quotidian lives -- have begun to comment. We get these notes advising him to slow down, take it easy, inquiring whether he's "actually OK." He's not OK. But then, he never was.

Aside from all the drugs, an early career in goat husbandry -- "not as much fun as that makes it sound," he says -- certainly took its toll. Though he won't talk about it, he seems to have had an especially close relationship with one animal he evidently named Aleister for some reason forever lost to us now. Reading Jung and Nietzsche at the same time is never the best of ideas, but add to that Oswald Spengler and goat husbandry and you're really asking for it. RB once confided that he dropped out of college in 1965 -- the same year he enrolled -- because he couldn't understand a single word of "The Decline of the West." Never mind that he's been chronicling it ever since, or, as he mentioned en passant much later, that he'd been smoking massive quantities of opiated hash during those student years. Or year, more accurately.

In a perverse recapitulation of some phantasmagoric cognitive phylogeny, RB has lately been reverting to what he looked like in those days, no doubt with one jaundiced eye on the clocke that would tick this latest birthday round. It is a fact that he has not cut his hair since the day he first showed up for work at IBM in the summer of 1995. RB has been gripped on occasion by a misplaced intention to reform himself, and this fateful watershed was one of them. The picture on his IBM security badge, snapped that first day at the hapless computer monolith, betrays the tragically hopeful countenance of one about to be thrown to the lions, yet who has somehow mistaken them for Tickle-Me-Elmos. Or maybe he thought they really were lions... Whatever. We have ceased all attempts to retrospectively reconstruct an archeology of what must have been a labyrinthine thought process on this particular subject. Nonetheless, there is evidence in the back pages of EGR that more than a snapshot snapped that day. Whatever tenuous hold RB might once have had on that elusive thing the rest of us call reality, it began to unravel in the ensuing months as he slowly came to realize that he probably wasn't, after all, management material.

But the point of all this is not to resurface the unfortunate events at what Rageboy® today refers to as The 666 Corporation. No. The point is that his hair has gotten really fucking long. Longer than it was in his hippie period, he says, when it seems he would occasionally chew large chunks of it off during some of his more challenging pharmaceutical moments. He keeps it tied back in a ponytail most days -- thankfully, because when he forgets and lets it down, he looks like some aberrant Mona Lisa drag queen way past her inscrutable prime. If looks could kill, we'd all be dead, yet RB has placed a standing requisition for no fewer than six "killer Eurasian housegirls," which, he insists, are absolutely necessary as editorial assistants. So far, we've endured the poisonous invective our refusal to supply said "housegirls" has unleashed. Fortunately, he seems to forget these perquisites as quickly as the impulse to demand them comes upon him. Clearly, his memory is going. Or perhaps it's that he trembles at what would happen to his carefully constructed Alpha Gonzo image if he were ever confronted by an actual woman. He tells endless stories of his sexual predations, but we all believe it's nothing more than another case of inverted self-hypnotic misremembering.

As to his near-trademarked references to drug and alcohol abuse, RB goes to great lengths to hide the fact he hasn't had as much as a beer in nearly 15 years. He has managed to hang on to what he calls his "trusty old bong," but only uses it to sip the occasional ginger ale. Pathetic. While it seems he really did drink enough Johnny Walker Black to kill a herd of bull elephants -- "single malts are for pussies" he says -- it finally got the better of him and, toward the end, he ended up in jail a lot and became a boring conversationalist. He maintains he only drank in an effort to come down off some DMT he smoked in '68, but while we'll admit that dimethyltryptamine is a wicked high -- or so we've read -- it strains willing suspension of disbelief to imagine that 15,000 gallons of so-so Scotch would be required to "make things stop moving around so much," as he often puts it (apparently they have not). Rather, we suspect, he had the moral sensibilities of a gutter drunk from the beginning, and finally reaped the richly deserved rewards of such a life.

Then came his dalliance with artificial intelligence, but he's already told us about all that ad nauseam, not to mention the autobiographical core dumps on his days as a corporate PR sycophant, an Internet "guru" (gag), a teenage brain surgeon, a w