Two great European narcotics, alcohol and Christianity.
Friedrich Nietzsche

From a commercial point of view, if Christmas did not exist
it would be necessary to invent it.

Katharine Whitehorn

Midnight, and the clock strikes. It is Christmas Day,
the werewolves' birthday, the door of the solstice
still wide enough open to let them all slink through.

Angela Carter

Entropy Gradient Reversals

Season's Bleatings

Here we are at the end of another year and that means it's time for our Predictions for 1998 -- or at least a fond look back at the Best and Worst of 1997.


OK, then how's about a violently opinionated piece on the $US Justice Department and The Whole Microsoft Thing? Here it is in a nutshell: Janet Reno and Bill Gates can both go hang themselves for all we care. Well, all right... but why not a saccharine reminisce on Princess Di: What She Meant to Us?

Look people, don't you get it? It's Entropy Gradient REVERSALS for christsake! That means we have no intention of following the rest of the journalistic lemmings down the slippery slope to some way-cool happening convergent multimedia hell realm. Even if it would make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Even if it would land us those two million mythical subscribers we set out to snatch from the the iron jaws of manifest web destiny. No. We refuse. (Even though "Our Last Night With Di" would make for some shit-hot reading, we have to admit.)

The whole point of EGR, if it has one, is to go against the grain of industry wisdom, common sense, good taste and reasonable expectations. So fuck you. Merry Christmas.

But don't despair. Our online peregrinations into the not-so-obvious and irrelevant have unearthed something you can actually do to while away those boring hours in whatever sweatshop inferno you happen to frequent just to punch the clock to pretend to work to earn your paltry sodden daily bread. What we're taking here is a MAJOR time waster, so don't try this one on your own dime.

Ready? Click over to Audible at and poke around until you find the FREE STUFF they're offering. You must Act Now, etc. Look for Dave Barry's Greatest Hits and the link that says "Download the unabridged 3-hour version." On your corporate T1, this is a fast-grab freebie and even at dialup speeds it doesn't take very long. Oh yeah, and you need to download the player too (there's also a $200 hardware version, but forget that). You can probably guess the next part. First, make sure your boss isn't around (or that your headphones won't give you away), then queue up the book and listen to the whole goddam thing from beginning to end!

When it's over, you'll be crazy as a shithouse rat, guaranteed. Plus, half the day will have gone by, as if by magic, with not a single lick of productive work to show for it. Cool, huh?

Now, some of you may be asking yourselves, why would RageBoy be telling EGR readers to listen to someone as basically straight as Dave Barry? It's true, we would like nothing better than to dis this polyester pundit, to piss from a great height on his so-called humor, his meditations on middleaged suburban angst, to tell you he is just another syndicated kiss-ass slopping the Philistine swine who read your average metropolitan daily. But listen: this dude is one seriously twisted, not to mention funny, mother fucker!

We will even admit to some professional jealously at his not-so-occasionally brilliant turns of phrase. Where does he get that stuff? Did he ever do drugs with the single-minded vengeance we did? No, impossible. Has he ever escaped from a locked mental ward? Improbable. And yet... and yet... the fellow is clearly whacked out of his skull behind something.

We console ourselves with the certainty that what distinguishes us from Mr. Barry -- other than the fact that he gets paid -- is that we can write "motherfucker" and he can't. So, so much for him.

But that does raise a point on which we never cease to be curious. Difficult as it may be to believe, some readers have objected to our use of strong language in this publication. One guy took the trouble to send us a full-text copy of The Lord's Prayer along with his request to be unsubscribed. What? Did he mistake us for the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks when he first joined up? Another individual, representing herself to be an art historian, simply demanded: "explain yourself" -- but whether her need for further elucidation of our underlying artistic rationale had anything to do with the use of dirty words, we'll never know. We told her to piss off.

The literate argument is far more interesting. Language, it goes, is sufficiently rich in expressive possibilities that it need never descend to vulgarity to make its point. (This always reminds us of a certain opinion, popular for a passing moment in the 1970s, that you didn't need drugs to get high. According to this theory one could get high, for instance, on Life. We always felt it necessary to point out to people professing this view that drugs were entirely necessary to get high on drugs. But that was already obvious to most, and we digress.) Moreover, say the no-dirty-words-for-us-thanks crowd, it is only hacks and adolescents looking for attention that resort to the language of the gutter. To both these more considered lines of argumentation we say: up yours!

Try telling that to the French monk Francois Rabelais (1494-1553), who goes on for many pages in a detailed inventory of the various common household items with which Gargantua swabbed his ass in an attempt to identify the perfect bungwipe (spoiler: the neck of a live goose); or to Geoffrey Chaucer (1345-1400), who, in one of the Canterbury Tales, has a woman hang her butt out a window in the dark so that her cuckolded ex-lover will kiss her asshole full-on. And these are just a few off-the-top examples. Rude excess or great literature? You be the judge. For our own part, we suspect these now-canonical authors didn't really give a flying fuck. pulp fiction

Speaking of great literature (since we're already all over the map in today's little essay), we once subscribed to The New York Review of Books. We figured we needed to get past the thin facade of the cultural wasteland represented by publications such as Time, Newsweek and Reader's Digest (this was before Wired, we hasten to explain, or we wouldn't have felt the need so keenly). We figured, in short, that we needed to tap into The Arts. However, we soon found that The New York Review of Books was really all about Politics. Hmmmm. So we turned to CNN and USA Today -- and found that politics was really all about Entertainment. Finally, we came full-circle in these deliberations and decided that, as far as we can tell, both Art and Entertainment areHomeBoy 3HomeBoy 2HomeBoy 1 really, as Rabelais and Chaucer presciently perceived quite a few centuries back, about people doing funny shit with their butts.

This is not to write off politics, though. Far from it. Another good reason to use foul language whenever possible -- long-historied Anglo Saxon terms like shit, piss, cock, cunt, paradigm shift -- are the various governments which would prefer that we not. Not only would they "prefer" we not say bad words, the fact is they would lock us in dungeons if they got half a chance and throw away the keys. To these, likewise, we say: fuck you! -- not leaving out whatever horse you rode in on.

So you see, these practices EGR has adopted all have deep moral underpinnings. We really don't want to say these naughty things, but we feel we are ethically bound to do so. And... let's see now, where were we?

Oh yes, this whole business of Art. Certain readers (they know who they are) keep bugging us to write a book. While this may seem a reasonable enough suggestion on its face, it presents no small conundrum. Should it be an adventure novel perhaps? RageBoy accidentally gets involved with a band of rebel computer scientists with plans to blow up Publisher's Clearing House. Only he can alert the authorities in time to save the fetching noir-punk hooker, CyberElla, from certain death, as she works in the mail room at the spam-plant the Evil Hackers have targeted as a demonstration of their growing power. Next stop, natch, the White House. At the last minute, though, RB discovers he doesn't give a shit.

Hmmm. Weak ending. How about: Tips on How to Succeed in Online Marketing. RB writes the first sentence -- "Would-be entrepreneurs hoping to make a killing in cyberspace need to keep in mind three main facts of life online." -- before discovering he doesn't give a shit. Weak beginning.

Or it could be, and this is the dangerous option, a kind of thinly disguised autobiography. Like so many science fiction novels, it would have to begin right in the middle of events way too complex to bother explaining, so that no meaningful context begins to emerge until, say, page 243. What the hell, let's give it a shot.

He found himself hiding in a large bush in the ancient urban cemetery, watching as his pursuers finally headed off in the wrong direction. He let himself fall back into the brambles with a long sigh of relief. That had been a bit too close. Slowly calming down from the desperate sprint across the busy four-lane highway to his present hiding place, he let his mind wander back to the day in this very graveyard where it had all begun... [things swirl around and go all fuzzy...]

She'd appeared like an apparition out of nowhere on that late fall afternoon, smoking a fat Jamaican spliff in her white knit dress and carrying a jumbo take-out bucket full of fried chicken. God, she looked great. "Have I died and gone to heaven?" he recalled asking himself rhetorically. There was little question what would come next as he licked the grease from between her dripping fingers. Later, back in his rented crashpad room that contained nothing besides a mattress, a lid of pretty good weed and 6000 Marvel comic books, they spent the next eight hours studying the fading circus poster and noticing how well it went with the badly spackled cracks in the crumbling plaster.

Somewhere in there, she'd gotten pregnant. Or so she suspected a couple weeks later. But not to worry, she said. Kiss. "Right, no problem." Kiss-kiss-kiss. "Let's just wait and see how things turn out." Sure. Good. "Look, just a minute while I slip out this back window..."

Plus, he was completely broke and all his friends were moving out. That meant the landlord would be coming around any day now and he wasn't even supposed to be living here. Time to panic, he thought, but then remembered he had Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Lateral thinking had always been a forte. With insurance coverage, you could get three meals a day and a warm place to sleep -- in a hospital. But how to get in? A car accident was too much to set up, and could even be dangerous, not to mention the potential fraud implications. But wait, he had it! Wasn't he a member in good standing of the Youth Rebellion, one of the walking wounded of the Drug Culture? You bet your ass he was!

Check-in was easier than a motel. As it turned out, he didn't even need to be creative. He just did what millions were already doing: mindlessly quoting Dylan. "...yeah, people just get uglier and uglier and I've lost my sense of time..." All the examining physician said was "Oh, mama!" and he was in -- the mental ward.

For a while it was a lot of fun. One day he took down the picture on the wall, a big old framed abstract thing looked like it came out of a Motel 8 somewhere, and re-hung it -- upside down. When the main-man honcho shrink and his entourage came sweeping in on Grand Rounds, he was standing in front of it, obviously lost in thought. Slowly snapping out of it as if he'd just become aware there were like 12 people suddenly in the room, he turned to the Big Doc and said, presenting as textbook-perfect a drug-addled demeanor as he could summon, "Interesting, don't you think?"

Big Doc looked around to make sure his first-year resident audience was paying close attention to how he planned to Deal With This, and said, predictably: "What is it, particularly, that you find so interesting about that painting? HMMMM...?"

Turning head over in contortion effort to get correct view: "It looks like it's upside down."

"And what makes us think that? HMMMM...??"

"Well..." hesitating, struggling for the right words, clearly confused from all those psychedelic substances...

"Yes, yes, you can tell us. Speak up..."

"Well, before you came into the room just now...?"

"Yes?" Big Doc clearly warming to this interchange, smelling something juicily insane about to be divulged here. A major chance to show his knowledge of The Deranged Mind.

"I took it off the wall and re-hung it upside down. See? It really is upside down."

The student doctors are suddenly stifling guffaws. This total asshole psychiatrist has just been royally skewered and everybody knows it, especially him. He turns, and stiffly -- what else can he do? -- storms out.

Then there was the time he'd cut the Naugahyde monster out of a magazine. Naugahyde(tm) used to have this sort of horrible cartoon monster as its logo and that was what he carefully cut to fit to the little slide-open observation window they had in his door. Then he waited. Several hours later, the blood-curdling scream signaled that he'd nearly offed the officious bitch who every night would remind him that smoking in bed was against hospital regulations. He snatched the Naugahyde monster thing out of the window before she could get anyone to come look, so they all thought she'd been drinking when she described it.

What Big Nurse didn't know was what he'd been smoking in bed every night. Knowing he'd be locked in for at least several weeks, he'd smuggled in a shopping bag full of pot that he and this girl (no, not that girl) had picked along the banks of a river several hundred miles to the south. It certainly wasn't the best shit he'd ever smoked, but it got him ripped enough to deal with what was currently passing for reality, which was already strange enough.

For a while, he spent his days trying to steal the complete Bollingen edition of the Collected Works of Carl Jung out of the medical library by posing as an Afghani transfer student. Then came his Collage Period, during which he completely re-papered the ward corridor in advertising images lovingly snipped from the one thing these miserable shut-ins were allowed: really bad consumer-oriented magazines. The Thorazeeners just about crapped themselves when they saw it the next day. Lotta yelling and so on.

In truth, though, it was getting pretty boring. Plus, they were working on him every day. "Do you realize what drugs are doing to YOUR MIND?" they would ask, about every five minutes. Slowly at first, then with ever-increasing clarity, he began to frame a counter-question: "No, what?"

"Maybe they're right," he began to think. "Maybe drugs really are rotting my brain."

But he finally decided to go along with his treatment, as everyone insisted on calling his all-expenses-paid vacation courtesy of Blue Cross. Or was it Blue Shield? So he turned over his shopping bag of pot at the desk one afternoon, stipulating a) that no one was to look inside, and b) that he wanted it back when he checked out.

Later that day, he met with his assigned psychiatrist, one Dr. Kitchen, a matronly woman not much given to intellect who had a magic-marker poster on her office wall saying in huge capital letters, "MOTHERLOVE" -- an obvious gift from a patient who'd never read Freud. Dr. Kitchen told him, Motherlove or no, the police were on their way over. Oh crap. "But how can you turn me over to the pigs?" he inquired, trying, unsuccessfully, for casual. "What about doctor-patient privilege and like that...?" Dr. Kitchen then explained to him that that was just something on television and that, in this case, the hospital felt its ass was on the line. "So I guess you're just fucked," she said.

Then it was lunch time. Oh christ, he had to think. He snagged one of the nurses, a really foxy one that he'd played Ping-Pong with (yeah, really, regular Ping-Pong, you hit the little ball back and forth...) and asked her if she'd walk him down to the hospital store to get a pack of smokes, as, see?, he was out. She was reluctant, but finally agreed, and when she'd unlocked the ward door -- a big ol massive motherfucker of a thing -- he stopped and said, "Look, I really don't know how to say this, but... I mean, like I really like you and everything, but..."

"Yes?" she said, all gentle understanding. God, he really wanted to fuck her, looking like that.

"Well, it's just that... I'M OUTTA HERE!" he yelled, and turning, just about fell down four flights of back stairs to the exit door offering sweet freedom at the bottom of the stair well. Meanwhile, the help-me-jesus heart-throb to whom he'd just offered his sincerest condolences on the impending unscheduled departure, was raising one hell of a hue and cry through the hospital's public address system: "Security! Security! Patient escaping from R Wing! Repeat: Escape now in progress from Wing R!"

Oh shit, shit, double, triple shit! Even lickspittle grad students were grabbing for him on the stairs now. One got hold of a sandal, but fortunately the cheap leather broke away almost instantly, so aside from nearly tripping and dashing his brains out against the concrete-block wall, and having to hobble toward the almost-there-now exit door one-shoe-off-style, Diddle Diddle Dumpling finally hit the outside air laughing like Emilio Lazardo (surely you've seen the film) and spewing demented gibberish, which was really just incoherent sounds of joy admixed with no small degree of a fear that, far from abating, was getting worse by the second, mostly entailing the Permanent-Record implications of busting out of a locked-ward facility for the mentally ill.

After hiding in the near-biblical graveyard bush across the highway and watching his would-be assailants continue the hunt in a safely erroneous direction, he finally emerged as if reborn and, ducking down alleys and jumping over backyard fences, went and bummed some money from a guy who was deep into the White Brotherhood (only it was some kind of underground mystical yoga conspiracy back then) and within an hour was on a jet winging his way toward New York City and new adventures there too lengthy and exciting for the current chapter to contain.

Later, though, the cops would be looking for him for a couple weeks. "Just for questioning" they said, according to friends who were eagerly tracking this whole wildass melodrama from the safety of various innocent-bystander disguises, and who moreover reported the constabulary as saying that this was "the best grade of marijuana we've ever seen in this city." They were evidently fearful that its showing up in their fair burg betokened the arrival of -- gasp!!! -- the Mafia. But when they finally got around to bother analyzing the shit, they found out it wasn't really pot, but rather some totally non-psychoactive milkweed analog or something, at which point they were hugely confused as to why anybody'd be crazy enough to want to smoke an entire shopping bag's worth. Of course, when the hospital got wind of this -- actual proof of certifiable insanity -- they immediately suspected they were being set up for a massively premeditated insurance burn and shredded any evidence that our hero had ever set foot in their institution. So much for those needless Permanent Record concerns.

And we are not, as Dave Barry might claim -- but we really mean it -- making any of this up. Oh yeah, and she was never really pregnant after all.


Entropy Gradient Reversals
All Noise - All the Time


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                   Entropy Gradient Reversals
                   CopyLeft Christopher Locke


"reality leaves a lot to the imagination..." John Lennon

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