Leave the past alone.

Leave the past alone, there’s nothing good about toying with the past when it’s still walking around on two legs. I should be writing this in my notes on Facebook. Cause it sound so silly. whenever I write something down, read it out loud, to see if it sounds right if it doesn’t than I rewrite it. I’m not the best writer, my grammar isn’t always in place. So forgive me for not having a head for university. But you know reading helps. I don’t like going on about the past because we’re supposed to learn from it so here’s to this note. I’m not going to go on about something I can’t change, all I can do is learn and listen. Atleast that’s what they told me in school. I guess they were right on some levels. But they can never teach you the ropes of life, you have to do that yourself.
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The Parable of the Parrot Philosopher

by Jake Block
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA It only cost a nickel.  Just five cents, right there on the street in front of Adam’s Pet Shop.  The beautiful, large African Grey parrot sat in his cage, watching passersby who, occasionally, would drop a coin into the slot on his cage.  Gears would hum and whir and a small door would open, depositing three pistachio nuts into Caesar the Magnificent’s bowl.  Caesar would waddle to the bowl in his awkward gait and snatch his treats, gobbling them down, then he would return to his perch and make his pronouncements.
“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” (Nietzsche)
The crowd would mumble in appreciation until someone else would dig deep into his pocket for a coin and the ritual would begin again and again.
“If one does not understand a person, one tends to regard him as a fool.” (Jung)
“The universe is not required to be in perfect harmony with human ambition.” (Sagan)
““Shallow men believe in luck.  Strong men believe in cause and effect.” (Emerson)
“La plus belle des ruses du diable est de vous persuader qu’il n’existe pas.” (Baudelaire)
After a few moments, someone would mutter “smart bird,” and the crowd would amble on down the street to Barney the Dancing Chicken or Wendy the Wonder Mouse.  And in the interim, Caesar would sit on his perch and stare at the world around him.  Occasionally he would scratch his neck with his taloned foot or pluck an errant feather that had come out of place.  He would drink his water and he would squawk at those who passed, always keeping a watchful eye on the door above his shiny aluminum food bowl.
One day, shortly after the pet shop opened and Adam set him outside for the day, a man came.  He had heard of Caesar in a far off town and he had journeyed to hear this beautiful grey bird’s words of wisdom.  He pulled out a handful of nickels from his pocket and deposited one after another, and Caesar would munch and proclaim…
“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” (Orwell)
“Cynical realism is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation.”  (Huxley)
“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be.”  (Vonnegut)
“The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule.”  (Mencken)
Soon, the man ran out of nickels.  “Caesar, you are such a wise bird,” he said, “What is the meaning of life?”
Caesar was silent for a moment and then clucked lowly.
“Caesar, what is God and where shall I find him?”
The bird stared at the man and shook his body, fluffing up his feathers in agitation, but still the man went on.
“Caesar, how can I be good in a world that seems so bad?”
Caesar waddled over to the little door above his food dish and pecked at it with his big, strong beak, then stared at the man who stood before his cage without nickels but many questions remaining .  After a moment of standoff, the man began to speak.  Caesar squawked wildly, spreading his great wings and flapping them towards this man before him… this man without nickels.  This man without pay.  His squawking became louder and he became more agitated until, at last Adam emerged from the store and told the man, “Get the hell away from my store and leave my parrot alone!”
Dejected, disappointed and sad, the man began walking away from the wise bird.  His head bowed, hands in empty pockets, be began walking back from whence he came.  A few steps from the cage, he heard Caesar mutter,  “What the hell do you want from me?  I’m only a parrot.
Sometimes the most profound of speakers is most impressive when he’s parroting the words of others, but when left to his own devices and asked to think for himself, he’s revealed to be just a parrot, dispensing the wisdom of others for nickels.  This, and nothing more.

The Parable of the Salmon

by Jake Block
When the urge came, the salmon was far, far from his beginnings as a “parr,” freshly hatched and taking in this vast new surrounding in the small pool of its birth and eager to move and find out what lay downstream to the depths of the sea, many many miles away.  But life moved on and soon the salmon found himself steadily swimming amongst the other smolt, adolescent by now, through the bright and bubbling spring waters, shallow enough to be warmed by the heat of the sun, to the river, deeper and wider, cooler and swifter.  Here, the salmon became carried away with the current, almost effortlessly making his way to… where?  Along the way, he learned many things; where the log-strewn waters along the shore might hide a morsel or two, or where the land dwellers might cast their steel barbs to catch an unwary fish.  He learned to survive in these increasingly hostile waters, and as his skills grew, so did his strength and ability and the rivers became just another larger pond, so he moved on.  Ever swimming, ever forward until the rush of the river, with its sweet water and plentiful bounty dumped him unceremoniously into tha salty, cold darkness of the sea.
The salmon learned much in the sea, and used it to thrive, avoiding the many perils around him, from other fish to commercial fishing vessels to the polluted waters that claimed so many of his kind.  There were times when food was plentiful, and times when hunger loomed as he grew and matured.  The sea was vast and wide, filled with peril and pleasure, but as long as one kept a cool head and never stopped moving, one could have a long and eventful life, happily swimming in his school of other salmon, occasionally interacting with other schools of salmon and sometimes, even tuna.  He was enjoying his life as a mature fish when the urge came, and he knew he had to return, no matter the cost, to the place of his birth; the place he must spawn, pass on his wisdom to the little ones and live the rest of his life in peaceful contentment.
So back he swam from the sea… back up the river, back up the streams, back to the headlands ripples and rapids, swimming mightily upstream, leaping higher and higher against the sheer drop offs, to where the cool and languid pools of his youth would be found.  And around him too were other salmon, all working hard to make it home, some falling behind and failing, but those with the will to survive and to complete this most arduous task of life forged on.  One last leap… one last thrust… and the salmon jumped with all of the skill and power left in his body.  He was unable to stop or change directions when he saw the jaws of the bear, fishing for his dinner in the fast running waters of the stream, picking him off mid jump and ending his life.  His last thought before the blackness came was, “Is that all there is?”
Being a Satanist in the world at large isn’t easy.  There are times it can feel very much like a salmon swimming upstream to spawn in the cool and still waters from whence it came.  But it’s what society will tell you that you are supposed to do.  Your duty and your fate will be reinforced by the social-indoctrination tools… schools, churches, and even families.  They’ll tell you that it’s your job to follow the script set forth by millennia of tradition within your culture… within your race… within your species, and most will comply.  Most will brave the jaws of the bears, the predatory beasts of the rivers and seas, and all of the dangers that stand against us, just to die peacefully in that languid pool of peaceful waters.  A life long lived until one simply sleeps forever.
But some how, some way, a few break off and resist the urges that call.  Some continue to find their adventures in the sea, where one must prove themselves on a daily basis.  Some find the struggle to survive more compelling than the urge to follow the programming that it is assumed is one’s nature.  There are some for whom the programming of society and culture simply don’t make sense, and they find more satisfaction on finding their own meaning of life, constantly asking, “Is that all there is,” while continuing to strive for more.  They bend and break the rules, often confounding others of their kind, opting for personal satisfaction and experience, rather than meeting the expectations that most find to be the essence of being, prodigal sons all, in their dutiful return to the fold.
Sometimes you survive the journey.  Sometimes you get picked off by the bears.  Sometimes, you simply journey on.

The Briefing

by Jake Block
dogtags In 1981, I was still in the military and openly a Satanist. Everyone in the squadron knew it, and to be truthful, as long as you did your job and kept your mouth shut, just like being gay, no one really cared. One day, I was working, preparing to move a large number of troops to an undisclosed destination, when my commander came into my office. I immediately came to attention for this man that I had come to respect. He was a no nonsense officer who laid it on the line and expected you to do your job. If you did, you were ok. If not, you had better be prepared for the consequences. It was uncommon for him to just show up during the working day, so after returning my salute, he said, “Go home. Be back at my office in one hour in dress blues and be prepared to brief the Wing Commander. Hit it. I was out the door and headed to my car. Briefing the Wing Commander usually meant you had really fucked up. But they wouldn’t need you in dress blues for that. Your ass could get chewed just as easily in fatigues. Reporting in dress blues was usually the stuff of awards, medals and honors… OR… you had REALLY fucked up, as in “Thanks for playing, pick up your lovely parting gifts as you leave.” Now, I was GOOD… but having to be honest with myself, I had done very little lately that ventured into the awards and decorations category. Still, I had done nothing that would make me think I was in deep shit, either. So I steadied myself as best I could and in one hour to the minute, I was standing at my commander’s door, knocked twice, and entered. Inside his office, he and the Wing Commander were sitting at his short conference table. In front of them were several regulation books, note pads and coffee cups… a good sign… when you’re in trouble, they don’t relax enough to drink coffee. Also at the table was the commander’s secretary, Mrs. Livenson who was tough as nails, but well known as a friend to the troops. She gave me a smile as I took three steps toward the table, halted with my right leg tensed and slammed my heels together with a SNAP, while executing my salute. “Tech Sergeant Block, reporting as ordered… SIR!” They returned my salute and had me stand at ease while the secretary read the agenda. “This meeting has been called to investigate and to find facts into the involvement of TSgt Block in Satanism, the Church of Satan and his long-standing request to be issued military identification tags reflecting The Church of Satan as his religious preference.” She paused. “This is not a matter pertaining to violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and no jeopardy exists. This meeting is to determine if TSgt Block’s involvement falls within the realm of military standard, and if it is compliant with order, discipline and proper military conduct.” My commander asked, “TSgt Block, do you understand these specifications as explained to you?” I answered crisply, “Sir. Yes, sir!” Then, standing there, looking at an eagle on my commander’s shoulders and the 4 stars on the Wing Commander’s uniform, the questions came. “Are you a devil worshipper?” “What’s the difference between devil worship and Satanism?” “Do you approve of drugs?” All fairly simple questions that any Satanist “worth his brimstone” should be able to field off the top of his head. Behind me, I heard a knock at the door and then, to my left, saw the familiar figure of Colonel Langen, the senior base Chaplain. Coming to attention, I saluted him as he took his seat next to the Wing Commander. He said, “A salute for the enemy?” Still holding my salute and awaiting his in return, I said, “I’m sorry to see that a fellow soldier would consider a comrade with a difference in philosophy an enemy.” The returning salute never came, and as he began shuffling in his briefcase for various items, I said, quietly, “I post, sirs, (I return to stand-by).” I noted that my commander smiled as he glanced at an obviously agitated Chaplain, and simply said, “Noted.” From that point on, for the next four hours, it was pretty much like Jesus being questioned before the Sanhedrin. The Chaplain clearly had an agenda, and that was to make me look like either someone using Satanism to thumb the eye of the military, a druggie using Satanism as a justification for illegalities under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, or someone who just didn’t “get it,” and was gullible and manipulable under his trained mastery of Christian doctrine. I’m pleased to say, he failed at all three, and I made him look like a fool on more than one occasion, and while it was a temptation to go for the easy joke and ridicule him, keeping my military bearing and professionalism served me much better. These three men had the power to destroy my military career, send me someplace where I would just be out of the way, or force me into hiding who I was, “going along to get along.” But it was important to me that I make my stand, to demand the same rights and freedoms that I would ask and defend for others, and symbolically, the issuance of official military dog tags was my way of doing it. Did I care if I would be given some recognition if I was killed in battle? Not particularly… I would be dead. Did I care to be singled out by being awarded the dog tags? No, because I was singled out by NOT being awarded them. It would have been easier and less invasive of my privacy never to have mentioned the matter in the first place. But had I not rolled the dice and taken my chances, I would have remained under control and, even down to the moment of my death in battle, destined to be what someone else wanted me to be, for when I enlisted in 1969, there was no option of “NO religious preference.” If you had none, one was assigned on your dog tags, because the square had to be checked off or the paperwork would be incomplete, and that was simply unacceptable. So now, many years later, I stood before the panel and stated my case. I stated it professionally and with knowledge of the subject at hand and, after four hours of briefing, questions and answers, I was told. “Thank you for your time. Return to work, and we will advise you of our findings.” I said, “Thank you, sirs,” executed an about face, left the Commander’s office and went back to mine. I heard nothing for several weeks, and pretty much had put it out of my mind. I had a job to do, and getting that job pretty much took all of my time. So I continued to work, day to day. Then, one day when I was supervising my troops working on a project, a voice from behind said, “Tech Sergeant Block, may I have a word?” I turned to see Tech Sergeant Riordan form the Central Base Processing Office. He shook my hand and said, “Can we go to your office for a moment?” Certainly, this was a common occurrence. In my mind, he was there to arrange a special movement of personnel somewhere in the system. So we went to my office. I had my admin assistant bring us a cup of coffee and as I settled in behind my desk, I reached for my note pad. TSgt Riordan reached into his pocket and came up with a set of dog tags and said, “I thought you might want to have these. They’re hot off the press.” I took them with a smile and shook his hand. There, with my name on them were the first dog tags ever issued with Church of Satan as the religious designator. It had taken almost 10 years to accomplish, but with enough effort, even the thickest red tape can eventually be cut. A small victory. A personal victory. And even though it was a victory won, it did not mean that everyone would have to accept me, but it did mean that officially, they could not deny me. Did it change the way I worked? No. Did it change the way I felt? Somewhat. Did it give me anything I really didn’t have before? No. But sometimes gaining something isn’t the point.

The Parable of the Spanish Sandals

by Jake Block
In Rome there was a Senator, a man of the people.  He had the ear of the every day Roman who did his job, earned his pay, and paid his taxes to Rome as any good Roman should.  He was known for his love of fine footwear, and especially beautifully made, carefully tanned leather sandals from the south of Spain.  This endeared him to his Roman constituents, who began to call him “Sandalia” in recognition of his fondness for Spanish footwear.
The Senator also had a love of the good life and had a wonderful villa in Rome and another on the Isle of Capri.  His beautiful wife Agrippina at his side, he had risen from being a simple soldier to a mighty Senator of Rome.  His life seemed charmed and happy until the day that he divorced Agrippina and the great Senator stepped down from the Forum to again be a simple soldier in the Army of his nation, giving up all of the trappings of privilege and comfort except for one pair of Spanish sandals.   Then, one day, while walking through Rome with his squad, he was surrounded by his former supporters.
“Sandalia,” they called, “Why have you divorced your beautiful and faithful wife?  Why have you surrendered your seat in the Forum to carry a sword and shield of a simple soldier?  They pressed him as he stood, helmet in hand before them, until at last, he stepped up onto a low wall, looking out over the small crowd and said, “My friends, it is true that I once had a much different life, and to you it seemed to be all that any man born of woman could hope for.  And yes, I did divorce Agrippina, who had stood by my side; the beautiful and dedicated Agrippina, in whom you see such elegance and perfection.”
He bent down and carefully unbuckled his meticulously crafted Spanish sandals and held them up for the crowd to see.  “Yes!  I had a life that was to your eyes perfect.  I had the perfect wife, the perfect position and to you they seemed ideal, but in reality, those things in my life were very much like this beautiful pair of sandals you’ve all admired.  They too are wonderful to look at, and seem to be the perfect fit for me.  They were crafted well, and serve their purpose, but only I can tell where they pinch.”
With that, Sandalia the soldier put his sandals back on and marched away with his squad.

It’s Hard To See The Big Picture When Your Head Is Up Your Ass

by Jake Block
You know the type.  They have such a limited world view that nothing other than the smallest piece of the pie matters, and that small piece is theirs.  Now, the rest of the pie might be green with mold, but all our gourmand can think about is that sliver of pie, seemingly not yet infected, and the whole world around him is consumed in that one slice.  They’re the kind of people whose minds and attention spans are so limited that they can’t be bothered with anything except that special interest of theirs, whether it be politics, sports, the cost of gasoline, opera… you name it.
Most people aren’t so trivial as to become all consumed with their slice of pie, and can generally hold a decent conversation on a variety of topics.  But when the conversation becomes invaded by the addled jibber-jabber of these one-thought wonders, you might as well just give it up for the day and find something else to fill your time, because subtle hints won’t deter them, nor will ignoring them or even confronting them with the fact that all they ever talk about is their special interest.  It might slow them down for a moment or two, but they lack the ability for even short term change.
The worst of the lot are the political junkies who wear their assigned labels like badges of honor; liberal, conservative, right wing or left, Republican, Democratic, Libertarian or Independent.  If one says that the sky is blue, it will be fodder for the political spin that they can put on it.  They can give you a million reasons why the country is in its current fix, conveniently rewriting history so that their particular politician or political party had nothing to do with it, even if there are recordings, both video and audio, of their candidate making damning statements on any subject.  Revisionist history knows no political bounds and seldom bears much of a relationship to historical accuracy an often even common sense.  Don’t confuse them with truth and accuracy for their minds are made up and they are wholly invested in maintaining their version of events, else they might have to admit that they have swallowed just as much of the Kool Aid as the other guy.
Religious fanatics… you gotta love them… could pretty much be painted with the same brush, and fortified with the smugness of attitude that comes from being ultimately right in a fundamentalist kind of way.  ISLAMIC FUNDAMENTALISM is EVIL and denigrates women, forcing them into subservience to men “makes them wear beekeeper outfits,” covering themselves from head to toe.  “Obviously,” says the Christian fundamentalist, “this is wrong and not in keeping with the word of GOD.”  Yet, if you look at Fred and Martha, you’ll see that Fred rules the roost in his “right” Christian home, they know that in Ephesians 5:22 – 33, they are told:  “22: Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23: For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24: Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.  25: Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26: that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27: that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28: So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29: For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30: For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31: “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”  32: This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”
Islamic or Christian Fundamentalism is simply the opposite side of the coin in a situation that the coin is paper thin and there really isn’t much difference after all, leaving plenty of space for a very Satanic third side option that embraces much more of a realistic male/female paradigm than either of these faith based systems could ever conceive.  But that third side can never be seen unless one can find a way to defocus from the other two and look at things with fresh eyes. In order to gain new perspectives on anything, one has to be open to the possibility that their preconceptions taint any evidence that can cause doubt within their faith based beliefs.  Simply put, one has to develop the discipline to allow themselves to set themselves apart from a situation in which they might be intimately involved, in order to see things as they actually are, rather that what we wish them to be or what we have been told that they must be.  This, my friends, includes the “born agains” of whatever stripe, political, religious, atheist, pragmatist, vegan, you name it.  If your WERE “that,” but now you are “this,” you’ve run up against a roadblock in your thinking that you simply can’t wish away or dismiss.  If you need to reference what you are vs what you were, then it negates the reality that HUMANS do things within AND without religious constructs, so in order to see change, one must see people as simply that… people.  Then we can work on the inequities that they take upon themselves. It all begins with being able to see the big picture, vs that small sliver of pie we feel is uncontaminated by the whole.  Truth be known, the pie itself is contaminated… the degree to which your slice might be contaminated is up for debate and will always remain in question until we can back off and analyze it dispassionately.  You can do that best when your head is in the bright light of day and the fresh air of impartiality much better than the darkness and myopia of the inside of your own ass.

Tell Me Something Good

by Jake Block
swami “Apollonius of Tyana:  Tomorrow will be like today, and the day after tomorrow will be like the day before yesterday. I see your remaining days as a tedious collection of hours full of useless vanities. You will think no new thoughts. You will forget what little you have known. Older you will become, but not wiser. Stiffer, but not more dignified. Childless you are, and childless you will remain. Of that suppleness you once commanded in your youth, of that strange simplicity which once attracted men to you, neither endures, nor shall you recapture them. Mrs. Cassin: You’re a mean, ugly man! Apollonius of Tyana:   Mirrors are often ugly and mean. When you die, you will be buried and forgotten, and that is all. And for all the good or evil, creation or destruction, your living might have accomplished, you might just as well never have lived at all.” — The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao by Charles G. Finney Do you want me to tell you what you want to hear, or do you want me to tell you the truth as I know it?  Most people don’t want to hear the truth, no matter what they might tell you.  They want you to validate what they already think.  “Mitt Camp” fortune tellers in the carnivals have made their living doing exactly that for hundreds of years.  So have the “death talkers” on television who claim to talk to the dead… your auntie Jane or my uncle Ralph will always be right there on call to tell you something good from the vast beyond.  Some of these people can be pretty slick, and some of them are about as believable as a lottery ticket with the guaranteed winning numbers for half off the ticket price… this is actually a scam that some people fall for, believe it or not.  All of these “feel good” scams are geared toward those who need to be told something good, so that they know that everything will be ok. Life isn’t like that.  Sometimes things WILL be ok in the end, and other times, there’s going to be hell to pay, and you’re going to get the bill.  Seeking answers from someone who has no “skin in the game” doesn’t really make much sense.  At best, they’re going to try to mollify your senses with platitudes or mitigations, because it will ease your mind and give you some sense of release from the nagging doubts and fears that accompany every physical or mental trauma.  Usually, you’re going to have to wait it out like everyone else and trust the opinion of professionals in whatever field your current dilemma falls into, and really, isn’t listening to the doctor tell you that he does or doesn’t think that lump is malignant a lot more valid than Aunt Becky’s anecdotal evidence of “the guy she once heard about who worked at the hardware store and thought he had cancer, but it really turned out to be a hive of bees in his thigh?” You want me to tell you what you want to hear, but like Apollonius, I just don’t work that way.  If I respect you enough to even give you my opinion, trust that it will be one that I believe myself!

Midnight on Brocken

by Jake Block Brocken Another year’s passed and here it is, getting close to Halloween. As usual, I wax nostalgic as the day draws near, and once again I think of the “good old days.” Maybe they weren’t all that good, and I’m viewing the past through the hazy vision of adolescence, but the memories of that time flood the senses with a lost innocence born of reckless abandon that only youth can condone. For a lad from the Midwest, there were things that one could expect on Halloween. The first snow flurries would surely come… just wisps on the wind… uncertain and fragile flakes that wouldn’t stick, but made you aware that Winter would soon be here. Chatter and more chatter about costumes. We could rarely afford store-bought costumes, so we made our own. The most grandiose plans made it to paper, but many a robot became a ghost or a hobo or a simple mask that you could get for ten cents at SS Kresgee (K-Mart for the under 45 set) or Woolworth’s. The bags of goodies would pile up like gold in Scrooge McDuck’s vault, and you’d eat Jujubes and candy corn until you thought you’d burst. But after the traditional Midwestern Halloween fare, you knew that by midnight, you’d make your way to Brocken. Darkness came to our area of the Midwest by 7 PM. By 6:30, all of the kids in the neighborhood were champing at the bit to be unleashed upon an unsuspecting neighborhood. Werewolves and ballerinas jostled for positions at the door, held in check by the now exasperated mother’s voice that warned, “You can’t go out until SEVEN, so sit down and watch TV.” When you’re a kid, the 6 o’clock news had little relevance in your life, especially on Halloween! Then, as if uncaged by an unseen hand, we spilled into the street looking for plunder… and mischief. The first priority was plunder. By the time you got to be ten, you knew who gave out the good stuff, who you’d have to “perform” for and who would stiff you. The grownups never seemed to tire of kid-jokes told by costumed invaders. In your mind you performed complex calculations on how you could rattle off your spiel and hit as many places as you could before you had to make your way to Brocken by midnight. Somewhere around the thirtieth time you told the joke about why 6 was afraid of 7 (because 7 8 9), your biological clock told you that it was 9:15… time for the prerequisite Halloween prank. Belleville, Illinois was a small town then, but you could really get into mischief. The problem was that everyone knew your dad, so you had to be careful not to get caught or if caught, swallow your cyanide capsule before you were killed. Dads could always KILL YOU, and they let you know it at the least provocation. Now, the widow Martin had chased a bunch of us from her apple orchard, and we knew that this affront to our sovereignty as kids had to be met with the ultimate in Halloween retribution. Yes, we were going to kill her outhouse. We laid out our plans like Generals in battle. Kenny Franks would ring the bell and do the trick or treat schtick. Meanwhile, Nicholas and Mike Hasenstab were to charge the outhouse, knocking it over, if possible. I would be waiting with my brother, Butch. We’d set the thing on fire and run like hell! It was pitch dark as we lay in wait next to the widow Martin’s house. We heard the doorbell ring… it was one of the old key-types that sort of rattled and rang at the same time. When we heard Kenny say, “Trick or treat, smell my feet, gimme something good to eat,” we sprinted for the out-door privy far to the back of the yard. We could just make out its shape in the darkness as we ran, full-tilt into the chill wind of October. We were in our glory! We ran for all we were worth, our lungs gasping for air… The first indication that something was wrong was when Nick and Mike disappeared. They were running between Butch and I and they just vanished. Then we heard their anguished voices whining, “Aw, yuck! Hey, you guyyyys, help us out of here, will you? Oh, no! It stinks! Come on now, help us out!” The widow was having her septic pit limed out. By now our eyes were fully adjusted to the darkness of the widow’s back yard, We could see the outhouse about ten feet away, off its foundation. We could see Nick and Mike at the bottom of the shallow pit, quite literally in a world of shit. We reluctantly reached down and pulled them free. I’ll never forget the sound… sort of like “ssschlook!” Two less pilgrims on their way to Brocken. Belleville had two theaters within walking distance. The Lincoln was always our favorite, as it had a balcony. When you were a kid, you didn’t think in terms of “making out” in the balcony. You knew that this was the perfect level from which to launch soggy buttered popcorn and flattened-out popcorn boxes. But on Halloween, this was where the kids all huddled for safety. This was Brocken, the mountain of witchly revelry. Every Halloween, the Lincoln had a smorgasbord of horror features from midnight until dawn. This was where one first learned to appreciate or fear the world of the occult, the paranormal, bizarre and eerie. Those who made the grade would return again and again until the inferior quality of latter day horror films would allow the ritual to die. But while it lasted, it was an Oberamergau for the true connoisseur of horror films. Dracula… Lugosi, not Langella… The Wolfman, The Mummy and The Thing brought squeals from those who had seen them before. By the time the fifth feature flashed on that big screen, most were sleeping in those balcony seats, with visions of monsters filling their heads. Next day, you slept until noon… seems like Halloween was always on a Friday then, and there was no school to worry about. Nick and Mike carped about how they had been ripped off. Their dad had killed them and their bags of Halloween candy had been rendered inedible by the noxious substances in the widow’s septic pit. But most of all, they’d missed their midnight on Brocken, with its stale popcorn and diluted Coke. It was a rite of passage that they’d have to wait another year for. Today, over 50 years later, I can still look back on those days and smile, but I grieve as well. The youth of today will never know the same thrill and fear of those classics in the darkened theater with its velvet curtains and musty smells. Perhaps a new Broken exists somewhere…

Those I Call “Wrong”

by Jake Block
wrong-pano_13178 There are those who feel that because they self-define as Satanists, they have the right to spew forth whatever noxious garbage they can, and act as cretinous and socially inept as possible, and they also believe that because you and I might identify as Satanists or some other traveler along the Left Hand Path, we have to support and condone it.  These are people I call “wrong.”
The delusional exist on both sides of the path, right and left, and they live in their own little worlds where they feel that everything in the universe revolves around them and their picayune needs to behave in a manner that is guaranteed to provide them with the notoriety that they are incapable of achieving through effort, intellect and acumen.  They opt for the easy laugh… the vulgar display… shock value… in order to be talked about.  It doesn’t matter to them that the talk about them is generally negative, because they genuinely feel that there is no such thing as bad publicity, believing that as long as people are talking about them, it confers upon them some measure of relevance.  Again… these are people I call “wrong.”
Oscar Wilde famously said, “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.”   That may be so, but you know, there are people who have better things to talk about than them and the asinine things they do, and to be quite frank… most of us are simply over the “I’m a bad ass of the Left Hand Path” schtick.  If you were truly a bad ass, you would be using it to get ahead… to becoming more autonomous and less subject to the prevailing ethic and ethos of the culture and society, freeing yourself up to live well and be beholden to no one.  Damned few of those types out there.  But there are plenty of bad asses with the four pound chip on their shoulders, beaming forth messages of their omnipotence like Yezedi priests from their Zirahs in the sacred city of Lalish.  The difference is that the Yezedi priests had earned their positions and bragging rights by real time deeds and doings.
I, for one, will be purging those I call “wrong” from my friends lists, refusing to play their games when they post their nonsense, and trolling for a sucker to take that first bite, and put their feet to the fire in meeting the standards set for board participation on any of our forum pages.  It’s a wake up call and a message to all game players and shit disturbers that we expect them to come up to OUR standards, because we damned sure don’t intend to come down to THEIRS!

The Parable of the Contented Fox

by Jake Block fox-resting-on-log-jodi-terracina
There was a wily fox, the wiliest fox there ever was, and he ruled his run ‘round Nottingham, well-fed while others went hungry.  He knew where the eggs would be found, and he found them each and every night, and while other foxes had to share the wealth, he always dined alone.  He slept soundly in the mornings after a night’s foraging was through, and if he woke up hungry, there was always food for him too.  Because he was the wily fox, wily as could be, and he smiled, knowing no other fox could be quite so lucky as he.
While other foxes ‘round Nottingham might have to roam afar to find enough to eat, he was lucky that in his neck of the woods, there was always a door ajar, and an egg or two to be found, and hens that always laid.  Cool waters were plentiful too, near where his comfortable den of straw was made.  So why would he think of leaving and venturing far away, where me might have to fend off the others to get his fair share every day?  He’d stay here where life was easy, and no rivals to challenge his reign.  He wouldn’t have to share his bounty or battle for his slice of life.  So long as no others discovered this comfortable life he had made, he’d just go on living and sleeping and resting all day in the shade.
It’s easy to take life for granted when you’re given the means to survive and you don’t have to fend off your rivals or share in the bounty you’ve found.  So. contented. his life was a pleasure, until the day the horn’s baying did sound, and he finally paid for his pleasures when he was driven out, and the hunters released their hounds.