David Raffin's Blog: Metaphysicist, Writer, Performer
May 22, 2015
This second episode of the David Raffin podcast is both delightful and delicious. It’s about pancakes and war. And it has robots in it. And Stanley Kubrick. Yes, all that in a 10 minute package. For free. Almost like it was made by a robot. For robots.
And it was.
“Hasford” by Unknown – en:Image:Hasford.jpg. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
This episode also offers a story about Gustav Hasford, author of the novel The Short-Timers, which became the Stanley Kubrick film Full Metal Jacket.
If you want to know more about Gustav Hasford, you can track down some of his books. Perhaps visit
Which is maintained in his memory.
“The praise I seek from my readers is that they finish my books. After being alternately damned and praised for equally invalid reasons, I am content to trade fame for accuracy of interpretation. Fame, for a writer, is like being a dancing bear with a little hat on your head.”
– Gustav Hasford
Somewhere I have photocopies of his work as a young college student, copied from yellowing newsprint.
Jeff Burk’s Shatnerquake is the finest story ever told containing multiple William Shatners. Lesser authors have been shackled before now with writing only one role for Shatner. This is understandable, in the field of television and film, for logistical reasons. However, this has never been the case in the literary realm and Burk has led the way here with both great panache and bloodletting.
Unsatisfied with a single Shatner, Burk here provides a wall of Shatners. A smorgasbord of Shatners. Indeed, every possible variation of Shatner is set upon onlookers, each other, and the reader. No one is safe, let alone Shatner.
While some people have, in the past, mocked Shatner, deriding his skill as a thespian, song stylist, or margarine spokesman, Burk has shown that the problem has never been one of too much Shatner, rather too little. Free of casting limitations the literary form allows for full Shatner on Shatner action. At last Shatner is presented on a level playing field, where characters are of the same caliber.
With Shatnerquake, Burk has solved the Shatner dilema, which has plagued man since 1951, and he shall be remembered forever for this.
Author Daniel Keyes died last year. He wrote the masterpiece Flowers for Algernon which was first published as a short story in 1959 and later expanded into a novel.
Flowers for Algernon was part of the new wave of psychological science fiction, its story slightly set in the future and eschewing rockets and other planets instead giving readers an epistolary story presented as the journal of a man with an IQ of 68 before and after an operation to increase his intelligence by three hundred percent.
The book is on the American Library Association’s list of 100 most challenged books, wherein librarians track the efforts of non-readers to prevent children from reading. Labeling the book as “filthy and immoral” is, in fact, a high recommendation, especially to teenagers.
It was required reading when I was in the seventh grade, to the consternation of one classmate who was angry that “They want to make me read a book written by someone who can’t spell.”
The book is actually about self realization and loss.
An interesting note about the story: it was written for Galaxy magazine, but the author refused to change the ending so it appeared instead in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. When revised into a novel it was rejected by many publishers, again because the author refused to change the ending. It has never been out of print since publication.
Over at the podcast Escape Pod, they have an episode featuring a reading of the original 1959 short story. (link)
May 17, 2015
May 15, 2015
April 22, 2015
April 9, 2015
Three men walk into a bar…
At this point a lady asks me, “Why men?” And I say, “It’s a sexist joke.”
This art stolen from Richard F. Yates, C’mon, click it.
Three Swedes walk into a bar. It is full of leprechauns. It is the wrong bar. They are lost. “Who is lost, the Swedes or the leprechauns?”
The Finnish man asks the Irish man how it’s going. “Oh, could be worse. I still have the one leg.” Arbitrary Ethnic Humor.
Science is the cruelest discipline. Followed by comedy.
When science and comedy meet they intersect. And then they are dissected. It is cruel. Doubly so. Cutting.
Three scientists walk into a bar. It is the start of a cruel social experiment. The result is a matter of interpretation. Based on evidence.
One scientist says to the other, “I thought you were in control.”
“No,” says another, “I said I was the control.” Misinterpretation=comedy.
The role of the third scientist is observational. The humor in this needs no explanation, as it is universal.
Three bears walk into a bar. They argue about the relative coldness of the porridge. Then they start to make trouble.
Three Magi walk into a bar. It’s a setup. They are robbed of precious metals and fragrant oils.
Two thousand years later, three mobsters walk into a bar, only to discover that it’s a setup. They sit there, feeling foolish, waiting for the inevitable punchline.
The joke goes right over their heads. They are not the intended audience. No, this joke is not for them.
Three men walk into three different bars, simultaneously. Joke averted.
A Priest, a Rabbi, and a Laughing Hyena walk into a bar. The bartender asks, “Is this a joke?” There are many hurt feelings this day.
Perils of Free Thought: a book of no small danger
March 29, 2015
My petition for love was denied by the central authority which handles such petitions.
It used to be that these standard rejections came by certified mail and were printed in ornate script on fine paper. Today they all come by text message. Still, they carry with them the same tradition. They are summary rejections. And they are form letters.
If someone were to travel forward from 100 years in the past they would recognize them immediately. “That is a standard rejection of a petition for love, sent by the bureau which handles such,” they would say. But then they would add, “Where is the ornate script and fine paper?” And they would look sad. Because 100 years ago we were a more tactile people appreciative of ornate flourishes. Even if there was, as today, a shortage of love.
A traveler from 500 years earlier would not recognize either rejection. Modern love had not yet been invented. It is a bittersweet fact.
At least in the electronic age one need not stand in the terrible lines at the petition office. As early as a decade ago people still had to queue up in line for hours to qualify for the chance at rejection. People did this, as today, for the slim hope that their petition would be granted.
The form rejection lists a reason. The reason is never revealed outright but instead a reference is made to a number. The number corresponds to a large reference which holds all the reasons rejection may be made. There are 100 volumes in question. The reasons for rejection are, some say, innumerable, but in reality they mostly break down to endless variations on three reasons which no one likes to discuss. Most people do not bother to look up the reference number listed in their rejection.
Mine was V.21.12.91. “Rejected for tendency to look up and contemplate facts and figures.”
We all know people whose petitions for love have been, or seem to have been, granted. It is commonly thought that some petitions are granted only to make the system seem viable. In fact, these successful petitions have a high failure rate. There is a complaint bureau. It is housed on the top floor of the tallest building in the world. There is no elevator. When you arrive at the single window you find it empty with a sign which says: “No Returns.”
There has always been a shortage of love and that is why a system of rationing has been set up. To preserve love by careful denial.
The truth is there has been no new love manufactured since 1992. All the love in the world is used. And second-hand love has a resale value which can only be classified as pitiful.
January 17, 2015
My new ebook, Tragic Stories Disguised as Jokes, is out. Soon to be followed by the paperback and audiobook. There will also be an audiobook of the previous book, Perils of Free Thought.
January 7, 2015
in, out, and about the box [for Charlie Hebdo]
If a cartoonist draws Muhammad, he or she invariably will frame that drawing between four straight lines, a graphic representation of a box. Herein lies a problem: Nobody puts Muhammad in a box.
The Muhammad in a Box was a toy popular in the fifties. You turned the crank and it played a tune. But Muhammad never popped out. Angry parents would take the toy to the manufacturer and complain. The manufacturer invariably told them that Muhammad does not “pop out.” Such would be unseemly.
Some asked if Muhammad was really in the box. Here the manufacturer had to be clever. He said that Muhammad was, in fact, simultaneously in the box and not in the box at the same time. Possibly with, or without, a cat. “Is he or isn’t he?” they would ask. And he would reply “It depends on whether you want him to be. Do you want him to be? Are you looking? What are your expectations? Would you know him if you saw him? Would you know him from Jack? Perhaps you and your questioning are really the issue here.”
In this way, while there was never a no-return policy, the lack of returns was assured.
Sometimes people would journey to the manufacturer and ask, “If Muhammad is in the box, what is he doing in there?” and associated questions like, “How did he come to be in the box, if that is where he is?” and “Is there possibly anyone else in there?” sometimes followed by “and how do they get along?” Occasionally a traveler looking for answers would become clever and ask, “Are we even talking about the same Muhammad? It is a very common name.”
The manufacturer would say, “No one knows” “It is matter for the scholars” “How is it any of your business?” “With the utmost hospitality, as is the custom” and “Look in your own heart.”
The fast food outlet Muhammad in the Box makes the best falafel, granted the locations are difficult to find. They neither advertise or have a logo. But their falafel is the best.
From the upcoming book Tragic Stories Disguised as Jokes by David Raffin
And also an excerpt from Viva Chapeau
from the book Rhyme or Treason (the hard fought illusion of choice) by David Raffin :
Now, Islam is the youngest of the three faiths descended from Judaism.
Muslims pray on a schedule five times a day. Five Times. I am amazed you can get any suicide killings planned and carried out on that kind of a schedule.
In this country a lot of people believe “Moslem” is synonymous with “terrorist.”
This is probably unfair. Like all the Jews who don’t run people over with bulldozers, and all the Christians who don’t torture people, there are all those Moslems who defy categorization by not blowing anything up. In mathematics there is a phrase for all of these people in all three groups: they are individuals who fall outside the standard deviation.
It should be pointed out that men wearing turbans are more than likely not Moslems but Sikhs. I have nothing disparaging to say about the turban. The turban is a perfectly fine piece of headgear. In fact, I like to think the turban is a great mystery box that may hold many fascinating things.
In the 1970s, in the Saturday morning cartoon starring the Harlem Globetrotters, there was a character (“Sweet Lou” Dunbar) who could at any point reach into his giant Afro and pull out whatever was needed. I like to think this about the turban.
It may not be true, but that has never stopped the propagation of any belief.