Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Intaglio



Monday, February 26, 2007

I hate Raskar Raka

She insisted we meet for lunch at that new sidewalk café she’d discovered. It was so far away on the other side of the city it might as well have been on the opposite side of the planet. And then when I finally found the place she went on and on about her mother and her job and her cat, and how the internet was really a 1:1 scale model of Jung’s collective unconscious. You know how she gets.

We sat outside. For some reason she wanted to play chess, and I beat her. Then she wanted to play backgammon, which is not really my game, and more surprisingly I beat her at that too. She said she hated me. She said: I’ve suspected for quite some time now that you’re losing your mind. The clouds were darkening over our heads as she spoke.

Have you, I asked her, and on what grounds? Well, she said, many little things: The anti-social behaviour, the disdain for human life - not to mention your maps. I don’t even know where to begin with those. What about them, I said, it’s a perfectly natural interest. No, she insisted, in your case it’s definitely something else.

It’s funny you should mention it, I said, as I heaved the slim cardboard roll up from under the table and popped it open, because I have a new one you might want to see: I pulled out the parchment and spread it on the table between us. She gave it the quick once-over. What’s so special about it, she asked me, it’s just another one of your boring old maps. Look again, I said, this one is different. The sky had turned black now. She looked closer as the first drops fell on the sidewalk and on the table:

When you first see the perfect map, it looks as dry as paper. You are just about to roll it up again, distractedly, but then the lightest drop of rain taps the sheet, and then another, making the oceans wet.

First it rains at sea; it rains on the dull rock that stands out of the ocean and on the sharp rock that is sunk beneath its surface. When the rain passes over the cape of the big island, the quiet fishermen aboard their creaking boats say nothing, they only put the chalk pipes deep into their oily pockets and spit over the railing for luck. Then, when the rain twirls over the inlets of the archipelago, the fishermen’s wives in their black gowns and black shawls come running noiselessly out of the low driftwood cottages to save yesterday’s laundry left to dry in the wind.

When the rainstorm reaches the unnamed continent it begins in earnest.

North east from the isthmus of the western peninsula, the rain easily scales the high walls of the city while the sentries on duty play dice. Merchants, midwives and soldiers run for shelter under the eaves of ancient houses named after patrician families. As the women wait for the shower to pass they prattle about city politics, and perhaps about the dragon in the tower, far away.

Beating a slippery path east, from the curve of coast that hangs like a slack clothesline at the mouth of the river, the rain crosses to the eastern peninsula. In the open land the farmer in his field looks up at the clouds, counting the days on his fingers. In the seaport town folks go about their business, unaffected, being used to the rain, but as the rain moves inland along the king’s road to the churchless crossroad villages, it makes good townspeople of every trade huddle together in smoky taverns with names like The Wild Boar, to sing songs of unattainable love, and perhaps also tell tales of the mad dragon which still lives, they say, in the charred tower, far, far to the north.

The rain does not have time for such stories, for it must hurry towards the mountains. It rains on the fox and it rains on the rabbit; it rains on the sheriff and it rains on the highwayman. It moves over the river, the marshes and the lumber float canal, through the great woodland where the broad, slow waterways abruptly swerve away from each other. The lumberjacks in the clearing reluctantly put away their long-shafted axes to sit in a circle around a fat oak, with their backs to the tree and each other, swapping cheese for mushrooms and cider for beer. They talk very slowly about the day’s work, and of the mad dragon in the charred tower that stands amid the mountains far to the north, and of the princess that he stole.

The rain is deaf. It hurries on, breaking the surface of the two great rivers that bend and curve against each other like a pair of embittered lovers. Every time they depart it is for good, and yet every time they come together it seems to be forever. Over and over they flirtingly come together only to separate again at the next turn. All the long way from the coast, through the green forests and the farmland beyond, the two rivers and their tributaries slowly mirror each other’s movements.

This polite arrangement is broken by the watershed hills, where the stream is narrower and deadlier. Here the run becomes parallel, one river chasing the other like a swift echo between the cool, green hills. The sheepherders that live in these parts most of the year have nothing to do but chatter. They say that the princess sat here once, with her lover, before the dragon stole her away to make a nest in the charred tower, and that her lover soon after threw himself into one of the rivers and drowned, and that if you sit quietly on the banks of that river, at dusk you can still hear him whisper: She loves me, she loves me not, she loves me…

But on which bank of the river they do not say, or even what river, and besides the rain does not have time to listen, for it must rush north to the mountains, through the meadows, the orchards and the pastures that stretch out beyond the watershed hills where the two rivers run straight, ever closer, so that one would expect them to flow together soon and become one river instead of two, but they never do.

The settlements are fewer in this part of the land. No one works the quarry anymore. No salt or silver comes down from the mountains. The king’s cobbled road is overgrown, and in so bad repair in most places that it does not even show on the map. It is still there, of course, underneath the ferns and the moss, it still moves east, and so does the rain, over the boundary stones at the ruined bridge, into that nameless country or kingdom which lies beyond the river.

Soon the jagged spine of the mountain range can be seen in the distance, and the wall of the northern boundary, stretching clear from the river to the inland sea. The icy water that comes down from the mountains turns the rivulets white as they swirl in and out of the ravines. The villages among the foothills are deserted, and the land is empty except for the columns of soldiers that come and the columns of soldiers that go. Perhaps they too talk of princess, and of the dragon, but in the days before he went mad, how fierce and beautiful he was to behold and how people came from far away to see him. The rain turns the road into mud under their feet and they curse their commanders. But still they march, as soldiers will, and the rain marches with them.

The dull, relentless rainstorm reaches the encampment at the northern boundary just as the three generals are about to roll up their maps for the day. They have become old men now, with bushy, yellow moustaches, but every night they polish their armour, and every morning they whet the points of their lances. When once in a long while one of the younger officers questions the necessity of the watch, they have him strapped to a catapult and flogged in front of the ranks.

They never talk of the wizard who forged the dragon collar, or what magic was in it to make it tighten around the dragon’s neck if ever he strayed. They never talk of the princess, and whatever possessed her on that day to trust the dragon enough to open his collar. They never talk of the mad dragon, free of the spell, his wings outstretched and his tail whipping, the triumphant roar he made as he snatched the collar from the princess’ delicate hands and snapped it on her neck instead. These things they never talk about, and their patrols never go beyond the northern boundary, but the rain goes there freely.

It scuttles over the wall, across the plateau and through the passes, over the very peaks of the mountains, into that forsaken region which lies beyond. For the longest time it rains on the nameless places. It falls on dead trees, ruins and rocks. It rises higher and higher until it finally reaches a place where things begin to have names again. The rain falls on Lake Sorrow.

The rain falls on the charred tower where the dragon many years ago made his nest. And there on the lakeshore, the rain falls on the heaps of three skeletons: The body of the serpent lays broken upon the stones, his great rib cage like the frame of an immense ark to ferry across the lake, with a splintered lance for an oar. The knight in his rusty armour lays close by, at the water’s edge, as if about to drink. Further away lays the body of the princess, one hand clawing at the strangely inscribed iron band, tight around the vertebrae of her neck. In her other hand she holds a sharp stone. The rain falls on the flat rock in front of her, where these words are cut: I hate Raskar Raka.

The rain moves away from her quietly, over the waters of Lake Sorrow to the other shore, but there we cannot follow. If you ask me why not, I will tell you: Because it is outside the map, and stop crying, you’re getting my map all wet.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Good news, everyone - I've been knighted!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Blogging the baby on request





The SHÄDY ÄCRES Iraq situation map



Now that the British and Danish are pulling their troops out of the Basra area, we felt it was necessary to give you a little update on the situation facing the remaing coalition forces*. In case you're wondering, the coalition forces are the green ones.

*) Or "Americans" as we like to call them, since, well, they come from America .

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I've told you a million times


Monday, February 19, 2007

And so we gather on the whale

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Back on Monday


We're away on secret political business for the weekend.

Friday, February 16, 2007

The mystery of the 9mm bullet case

It was a dark and stormy night. Me and the advertising guy were headed in different directions, so we stopped on the Piazza Fiesta to say goodbye before we split up. When I looked down something caught my eye and I picked it up. It was the brass case from a spent pistol bullet, marked BFL 9mm LUGER. We didn’t quite know what to make of it. It was hard to believe anyone would fire a Luger, or any other handgun for that matter, right in the middle of the Piazza Fiesta, even in the dead of night. But then it was equally hard to believe anyone would pick up an empty shell from, say, a shooting range, and carry it around with them, only to throw it away in a public square. I put the bullet case in my pocket and forgot all about it. And so will you. So will you.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

This blögzine is temporarily

Oh, and one more thing

God, it works even better when you put a little mustache on the corruptosaurus.

Friday, February 09, 2007

My first drink since forever

AHHH. Nothing like a cold pint of beer.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Synchronized sleeping

Sara, it seems, is growing something in her armpit. Something marginally more ill-tempered than herself.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Love is in the air

I am truly blessed. Have I ever told you about the time I invented sugar free gum? Doors just open for me, people smile at me where ever I go. It's always been that way. The halo effect, I think is the word for it. And yet I am haunted by a fashionably melancholic streak which gives me the right to treat you any way I want. So move over, all you fat, ugly, stupid people. Here comes the guy who invented sugar free gum.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Killer farmer executed

Friday, February 02, 2007

No rest for the wicked or for those who are the proud guardians of a baby with gas and tummy aches

When I mean no sleep, I'm not counting the 15 minute intervals of sleep inbetween Falk's screaming fits. Super, thanks for asking.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

I've seen the writing on the wall









It says you should send me money. Lots and lots of money. And you should buy me drinks. Vodka gimlets. And could you please make me a sandwich. Hold the bacon.