Semibovemque Virum Semivirumque Bovem
Classical poet Ovid once asked each one of his friends to choose, from a poem of him, three verses they considered the worst and that were to be deleted; also, he told them that he also had chosen three verses himself that were not to be deleted, no matter what. When they finally met, it was found that everyone, even Ovid himself, had selected the same three verses. Seneca the Elder tells this story to explain that authors know the problems about their own works, but that they don't bother to fix them. He does not explain further if this is because creators know better or because they are arrogant boneheads.
There is a different telling of this story that says that, when everybody met, nobody had chosen the same verses; because of this, after deletion, the poem was left with only three lines, the ones chosen by Ovid. He was not upset, though, because he saw it coming: the slaughtered text showed Latin words for "My friends are a bunch of hateful motherfuckers".
I Can See A Better Time
1212 AD was a year of tribulation and pain. Faith was an instrument of manipulation on the unwary; sometimes hunger, cold and sadness left no option that to fall prey to the darkest side of human nature.
Some unholy man from Köln (or from Cloyes, who can ascertain) had an idea; all those children needed a reason to live or die. That reason must not be ignored, as they need it and I may benefit from it. So he lured a boy and talked him about a dream he should have. A pious, nefarious dream; an army of boys and girls, marching over the Mediterranean Sea, to convert the Muslims to Christianity.
The boy finally had the dream. They managed to be up to 30 thousand; a sea of young flesh, an unstoppable stream of naïveté and blind hope, a river of mercy and love of God. Damned be the man, for he fed on misery and need.
The middle sea did not part on their arrival, nor they saw Holy Land, nor a single unfaithful were converted to the true faith. Some say their bones can still be found in Tunisia, or in Brindisi, or in Siracusa, crumbled into the soil, whispering a sad song of slaves.
One Day In The City
The manager let the candidate in. He was an ordinary man with no remarkable looks.
"Welcome. Please, sit down. Do you know what do we do in this department?"
"No, sir. I have no remote idea."
"Do you care about what we do?"
"Oh. Do you have any previous experience on similar positions?"
"Positions, you say? I'm not sure I understand you fully. Are you insinuating yourself into me?"
"Absolutely not. What I mean is, if you have had any similar jobs in other companies."
"Oh, in other companies. You bet I do. I have worked for many people, you know, here and there. Yes, many companies and enterprises and the like."
"Can you elaborate?"
"Sure I can."
"Ok, please do."
"I was production manager at Diffuse and Shady Enterprises."
"And many others."
"Yes? Which others?"
"I was chief technical officer at Tedium Entertainment."
"Oh, it was not that great."
"Do you understand the implications of the job you would develop here?"
"Is that another sexual proposal from you? You are a dirty horny man."
"Oh, please. That didn't sound remotely like a sexual proposal at all."
"I think you are a somewhat creepy executive, you know. Ok, just wanted to have your intentions clear."
"I think you behave like a real asshole."
"Oh, thank you very much."
"That was not a compliment."
"I have an expertise on the matter you mention thanks to my previous employers. Like, for example, at ARVG Inc., where I was technical counselor."
"Did you work at Annoyingly Repetitive Video Games?"
"Oh yes I did."
"I'm starting to think that you are overqualified for this job."
"Is that 'job' word you keep using an euphemism for 'blowjob' or 'handjob'?"
"Of course not."
"Not sure about that."
"Do you think you'll like to do my... er... to do what I do here?"
"Like, boring interviewees to death?"
"Oh, I don't think so."
"Ok, you're hired now. Welcome aboard."
"I'm starting to hate this fucking company."
You Are In The Room Of Misery
Coughing, the professor retired the dusty piece of cloth. The mistery was revealed:
S A T O R A R E P O T E N E T O P E R A R O T A S
"This is the oldest magic square known to mankind", said the professor, "It's something that has been written on walls since the early days of Rome. It was somewhat like a talisman."
"Like a HOME SWEET HOME crappy banner?", said Fabrizio.
"Not really. It's a palindrome; whatever direction you read it, it reads the same", said the professor.
"Well, HOME SWEET HOME is also a palindrome in a word-by-word basis", said Fabrizio.
"Shut up your fucking mouth", said Franz. "So, what does it mean? Is it really what we were looking for?".
"The meaning is not clear; it may say 'Sower Arepo keeps the wheels working' or 'Sower Arepo maintains the work with effort'", said the professor while wiping his glasses.
"Who the fuck is Arepo?", shouted Fabrizio.
Franz sighed. "Can we do anything with it? Is it any kind of meaningful message for us, or it's just another red herring to keep us busy while the creatures from the deep get closer, another pompous but inane pseudo-cultural reference that keeps the plot stalled?"
"You don't appreciate the hidden meaning", said the professor, somewhat offended. "This is very notable, you can even read it boustrophedon and it keeps the meaning. It's really magic. It's like the even older greek text ΑΒΛΑΝΑΘΑΝΑΛΒΑ, the one that means 'You are our father'".
"I bet on pompous but inane pseudo-cultural reference, Franz", said Fabrizio.
"I'm about to kill you two fuckers and keep moving alone", Franz said.
Shine On Me
The practice started among the billionaires, rock stars, social network influencers and other scum that had everything. It was a sticky mix of old traditions, new technology, stupid crap from television preachers, blotches of mud and hallucinogenic mushrooms sold by gurus and their sex slaves. The process was long and error prone and involved blood, goat cheese, flesh and twins. After doing it over and over its practitioners entered into some state of trance that changed everything for themselves. It soon became a public health problem.
It has been said that the bass player of a famous band started everything; he found himself bored and frustrated and with tons of money to expend. He bought a special kind of needles from an uncertain origin, specially thin and resistant, that he started to apply to himself and others. Friends and groupies soon got involved and everything went apeshit. TV moguls, IT CEOs, football players, autotune singers, all became crazy, and that took many lives, usually from the poor and the forgotten. The power obtained by the practice was exponential or, as some nerds uselessly affirmed, logarithmic. What's the fucking difference. The alleys soon were found full of tortured flesh, dismembered dogs and the carrion of twins, lots of twins, famous twins and anonymous twins.
Then a young woman, known worldwide by a stupid television show and specialized in exactly nothing, was abducted into a torture spree by a barely-mentioned sport star for a long and agonizing number of days. Time ticked. The news on this caused consternation to the whole world and that happened to infuse an unexpected energy thrust to the 𝕔𝕠𝕣𝕖, which saw its power increased by many levels and made its behavior much bizarre and hard to control. Someone even brought a man from the future and applied the practice onto him. He suffered in a special and unique way. His ultimate words in his inscrutable language were broadcasted in many media and became famous:
"ökkruôïshima îxpköokmosaa ökhohôkurohzaaz ikkophyphy ïnaanma, ö-phÿmnoethïshimasaazaaz. ïsaamaïgirmaokkoïzaazma ïnaanma okkokuroh uk 'sikgirgir imaïhwmasaaîxpköïkooma ikkophy îxpköokmo. îxpköokmo ö-whamnokuethhoh ikkophy îxthköökusuôsaarohzaaz, îxpköokmo îxzzkökuzaaz ikkophy 'wakkruethhoh. naanup ïhfmaikkohfïgirma 'usukgirgir ïsaamaïhwmakuïjhima."
And that was the beginning of the end. The message was a curse and also a cry for help that eventually was heard and a response to the practice was received from beyond as a storm of pain and fire. The innocent and the damned were punished the same. Nothing is as it used to be anymore.
When All The Colors Will Bleed Into One
It was like 1987 and we were in that dark and seedy club inside the alley below the mall, the one with the cheesy name, kissing and cuddling and doing business as usual, probably drunk. Then U2 started singing.
"This is exactly how I feel", I said. "Feel about what?", she said. I took another sip of vodka. "I still haven't found what I'm looking for". The bar was noisy as fuck.
"And what are you looking for?", she said, visibly bored. "That is the problem, I still haven't found it", said I. "I don't think that's the meaning of that phrase", she replied, "They know what they're looking for, but they still haven't found it. You're one step behind, if I understand you correctly". I shrugged and then kissed her, her breath tasting like tobacco and beer.
I started feeling sick and depressed like many other times. She lit a cigarette. Depeche Mode started singing _I sometimes wish I was dead_. I said "Don't you hate when all songs talk about yourself?".
She wasn't what I was looking for, though those days I wished she was.
Wave Your Hands In The Air Like You Don't Care
Johannes said once:
"Sometimes I have very repetitive dreams. Yeah, those loopy nightmares on drunken nights and so. A useless and numb thing happens, I don't know, like somebody saying me the same thing over and over or a present lace being tied and untied or whatever. In my dream I am aware that this is repetitive and annoying, and I usually comment this to other characters there (sometimes you are one of them, by the way). What I cannot assure is that these repetitions really happen. Do I dream the same thing many times, or do I just dream that a given thing or situation has repeated, without needless re-imagining inside my brain? Do I even dream it the first time, or do I only have the flash of something that repeated ad nauseam?"
Lola says Johannes is a very weird person.
Women of Lemnos
When the Argonauts arrived on a humid and sunny day to the island of Λημνος (Lemnos), they found it a desolate place: no males were to be found. Jason and his companions were informed that the women of Lemnos had killed all of them; fathers, husbands, sons. Some time ago, a strange frenzy had motivated all males to travel to Thrace, abduct women from there, make them their spouses and bring them back to the island; the massive killing was one of anger and jealousy and outrage. Jason, after begging for an elaboration on the cause of that frenzy, was told that the men of Lemnos had accused all women of heresy because of an awful smell emanating from their private parts. Finally Hypsipyle, queen of Lemnos, explained that the hideous odor were given as a curse to women by the anger of Aphrodite, offended by their lack of offerings and worshiping. The Argonauts stayed in the island for a long time (even years, according to some sources) and cohabited with the women of Lemnos; we can only guess that by then the bad smell was gone or that it was not that awful after all.
There is an apocryphal saying that the women of Lemnos stopped worshiping Aphrodite because they were dreaming about a bunch of handsome men on a fancy boat that were to arrive to the island on a humid and sunny day.