Ayn Rand and me: Distinguishing self-adoration from big-O Objectivism – over brunch.

Pulling this forward to amend it with this video, a clip from a Church of Splendor service imagining a Sunday brunch with Ayn Rand that she might not storm out of: Praising the empathy of her fiction while taking her to account for failing to have appropriate empathy for her followers.

This is more about Nine empathies, of course, a deep empathy for Rand herself and for her followers:

Ayn RandThis is a short colloquy with a reader. I love these kinds of questions, and I would love to hear more of them.

> I read Man Alive a number of months ago, and I liked it. Particularly the simple strategy you give for living a better life by thinking of yourself as on a number line and always making your decisions toward the positive end of self-adoration.

It’s funny, but that’s been a huge win for me, too. I’ve stopped writing satire because of it, and I realized today that there is a style of joke that is as self-destructive as satire, so that goes, too.

> I also got a lot out of your 21 Convention speech, such that it has put you on a kind of pedestal in my head as somebody who Continue reading

Posted in Splendor! | 4 Comments

Uncle Willie’s manifesto: If the words aren’t worth etching into stone, get someone else to write them.

Authors die, but ideas need not. I am vain enough to declare that I lack the everyday flavor author's vanity, but I more than make up for that with the other kind. There is no place for me in the bookstore -- and, for god's sake, why would there be? But there is room for my words on the wall of a bus, and it could be I have etched my way into stone, somewhere, by now.

Authors die, but their ideas need not. I am vain enough to declare that I lack the everyday flavor of authorial vanity, but I more than make up for that with the other kind. There is no place for me in the bookstore — and, for god’s sake, why would there be? But there is room for my words on the wall of a bus, and it could be I have etched my way into stone, somewhere, by now.

A Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Willie story

June 2, 2013
This is a story about a story, so fasten your seatbelt. At any moment, we could be plunged three layers deep in narration, like that daredevil Emily Brontë, who first taught the English-speaking world how to do this job.

Here’s what happened: I was in Houston for a while last Summer, about which more probably never. I got around by bus, easy enough to do for anyone who likes to wait and walk. One sweaty afternoon I sat down on a bus and to my right, scratched into that semi-indestructible stuff they use to line buses, were these words:

Do your worst. I will not kneel.

I wrote that, a long time ago, in a story Continue reading

Posted in Poetry and fiction | 1 Comment

The word that defines Western Civilization – ingenuous – and how to make it work for you.

What could be more becoming from a four-year-old girlchild than these words: “Do you worst. I will not kneel.” Sunday’s homily from The Church of Splendor.

Posted in Splendor! | 1 Comment

Anastasia in the light and shadow

A Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Willie story

The very first thing she said to me was, “I’m Anastasia.”

She had pronounced the name ‘Anna-stay-juh’ but I took care to be more formal. I nodded gravely and said, “‘Ah-nah-STAH-ziuh’. I’m honored.”

She giggled delightedly. “Why’d you say it that way?”

“To lilt, to laugh, to dance, to dream. To fly, to sigh, to sing, to speak. To embroider the air, to perfect it with the perfect sound: ‘Ah-nah-STAH-ziuh’.”

She giggled again and that was answer enough.

She was four-and-a-half on the day we met. Not awfully, terribly short, but at no risk of scraping her head on anything. She had a round little face that had borrowed too much mischief to be cherubic but was angelic nevertheless. Her hair was brown and it was almost always almost everywhere; it was obviously brushed and tied and obviously instantly disarrayed by her mischievous wanderings. She was a beautiful child, beautiful inside and out, but her eyes were the crowning glory of her nobility. They were bluer than blue, deep and dark and purple, as purple as the crest of a dynasty. They were clearer than any gemstone, and they seemed not to reap the light but to sow it. For all the Continue reading

Posted in Poetry and fiction, Splendor! | 8 Comments

A peek inside the head of a Headliner.

Libertarian art is the three-act comedy.

Extracted from the Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Willie book Losing Slowly, available at Amazon.com. I have great ideas. You have money. We should trade.

A Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Willie story

July 23, 2013
Who expects to see a Headliner at McDonald’s? Nobody, right? That’s why it’s the perfect disguise.

My world and the world of Las Vegas overlap at about five in the morning, when I’m getting up and Sin City is stumbling off to a half-passed-out slumber – that thick, deep sleep that leaves you wondering, when you awake, why your pillowcase smells faintly of vomit. The town’s official motto is ‘What happens here stays here,’ but the second-choice slogan was more accurate, I think: ‘If you didn’t puke your guts out, it wasn’t Vegas.’

But The Headliner is at war with all of that, I think, despite his job. He’s a jogger, for goodness’ sake. He was wearing gym shorts and an old tee shirt and running shoes that surely cost more than my whole wardrobe. Even so, he looks just like the picture of him you see on The Strip. If the other bleary-eyed breakfast-eaters didn’t recognize him, it could be because, in real life, his head is not sixty feet tall.

Or Continue reading

Posted in Poetry and fiction, Splendor!, This is Vegas | 2 Comments

The Affectionate Display: When life hands you a lemon – hand it back and shop for your own values.

Affection from The Church of Splendor: The nicest possible answers to life’s most brutal questions.

Posted in Splendor!, Videocast | Leave a comment

The Desperation Waltz.

Grass Roots Tavern, St. Marks, NYC
“Life isn’t about what you can’t know and can’t do. It’s about what you can know and can do. I couldn’t know my children would be taken from me so young, both at once, but I knew they’d die someday. And the worst of it is, I would have neglected them forever. I was wrong, and I learned my lesson. Exactly one day too late. I don’t want to be absolved for anything. That’s the last thing I want. Pretending your past didn’t happen is just another kind of selflessness, isn’t it?”
WanderingtheWorld (www.LostManProject.com) / People Photos / CC BY-NC

A Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Willie story

“Hey, Tommy,” Jimmy said without looking up from the newspaper he had spread out on the bar, “what’s Reubenesque mean again?”

“Jeesh! It means ‘fat’. How many times do I have to tell you that?”

“Statuesque?”

“Fat.”

“Weight proportionate?”

“Fat.”

“Full figured?”

“That means really fat. Whaddaya doin’ that for? We got a whole club full of babes here. How do you expect to get next to a girl in the personals?” He thumbed his own chest. “Tommy Klein, he knows better. Tommy Klein is an operator. You just stand back and watch me work.”

This is the truth: I don’t even like bars. I can Continue reading

Posted in Love and marriage, Poetry and fiction, Splendor! | 3 Comments