For What It's Worth – a literary site

The literary site of Jason Bentsman and Contributors. Entertainment, illumination, edification

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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It is a pleasure bringing you writings and other media through FWIW, but the site takes a lot of time to run (curate, write for, illustrate, code, share, etc)— sometimes a hundred plus hours a month— and incurs considerable costs to sustain. Donations from engaged readers like yourself are indispensable for it to continue running and remain Ad Free... If you derive any joy and value here, please consider becoming a Supporting Regular, with a modest recurring Monthly Donation of your choice, between a cup of tea and a dinner. (Note: You don’t actually need a PayPal account; just use any credit or debit card and click through.)

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Well friends, the Results are in from January’s impromptu literary improv Contest asking you to “Ruin a first date using 4 words.” I must say, I was floored by the number of responses– over 1,500 (!) from a dozen or so Facebook groups and threads. Suffice it to say, it was extremely challenging to select the relatively small number of Winning (25) and Runner Up (15) entries.

 

Since I didn’t wholly trust my own comedic judgment (or stamina) when reading so many, I recruited my good friend, writer and humorist par excellence Matt, as co-judge. Thanks Matt for being so magnanimous on short notice!

 

Even then, the results must be taken with a proverbial grain of salt, for they reflect our idiosyncratic preferences and addled minds. Really, a small committee was required, and others surely would have made some different picks. Hopefully though, we were able to winnow out most of the funniest and most clever.

 

And thanks to everyone who, to my amazement, kept responding… and responding… and responding. Hope you enjoy this list 

 

 

 

 

 

And if you’re curious, here is a list of the responses we came up with. I thought of mine sporadically over a few days. Matt came up with his in, like, 20 minutes.

 

Jason
– I have the clap 
– I voted for Trump
– Biggest heroes: Allen. Polanski.
– Grandma?? What the fuck?!?
– I looove children! Literally.
– Follow me on Instagram
– Bedbugs are my friends
– My name is Mephistopheles
– I’m 9 months pregnant
– I brought my therapist
– I’m from the future
– Fancy a foot massage?
– U brought a diaphragm?
– Prefer to pee clothed
– I have two heads
– Hamster. Tube. Enough said.
– The KGB sent me 
– I have anger issues
– Fucky sucky? Sucky fucky?
– What is your rate?
– Global warming doesn’t exist
– I followed you here
– You gotta snort this!
– Let us say Grace
– Wanna buy a condo?
– What’s your ATM pin?
– Your deformity arouses me
– Want to swap children?
– I’ll be filming this
– Reading is for fools
– Ignore the parole officer
– Rapists have feelings too (agh, this one is awful!) 
– First sign this contract
– This too shall pass
– Wanna join my Ashram?
– Let’s Netflix And Chill
– I own twelve concubines
– Pee into this cup
– Remind me to douche
– I love your cranium!
– This is becoming interminable
– Girl, you so freaky
– Let’s steal the silverware
– Just robbed the register 
– How much an hour?
– Fried bedbugs are delectable
– Too legit to quit
– Don’t fear the Reaper
– I’m a mischievous proctologist 
– Satan, get thee back! 
– More cowbell

 

Matt 
– I forgot my mantra
– It rubs the lotion
– Yeah, you’ll regret this
– Blackness. All is Blackness.
– Well this is awkward
– Let’s contemplate the nothingness
– Nothing will save you
– Let’s just not talk
– Endless dread, that’s all
– Limitless humiliation, my life
– Masturbation is my religion
– Masturbation is God, ok?
– I overmasturbated today, sorry
– My life is grim
– Want to discuss Schopenhauer?
– Despair, ye Gods. Despair!
– Systolic. Diastolic. Bucolic. Whooo! (a very inside joke) 
– I’m a dandy, see!
– I rage against God
– Sweeeeet Caroline, dum, dum – 
– Blade sharpens blade, petunia
– Remember Jewel? So great
– Remember Everclear? So great
– Remember Hanson? So talented
– Step on my dick
– My name is Cardamom

 


– Contest Was Held In Jan 2017 



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It is a pleasure bringing you writings and other media through FWIW, but the site takes a lot of time to run (curate, write for, illustrate, code, share, etc)— sometimes a hundred plus hours a month— and incurs considerable costs to sustain. Donations from engaged readers like yourself are indispensable for it to continue running and remain Ad Free... If you derive any joy and value here, please consider becoming a Supporting Regular, with a modest recurring Monthly Donation of your choice, between a cup of tea and a dinner. (Note: You don’t actually need a PayPal account; just use any credit or debit card and click through.)

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Well, so long my friend. 🍷✍   Leonard Cohen is a hero of mine. I was fortunate enough to see him in concert four times– his first in Toronto after his fifteen year hiatus (on a sort of pilgrimage for the very purpose), at a beautiful ornate ramshackle theater in a rundown part of Connecticut, and twice in NYC. His impact on my life over the years, and on my art, has been inestimable.

 

Yesterday it occurred to me that it might be nice to share some of his wonderful lesser known songs.

 

Here is a list of some of my personal favorites. I’ve included those I imagine people moderately acquainted with his body of work still might not know. Of course, everyone has their idiosyncratic favorites. It’s amazing how many great songs there are in his oeuvre. And he has very few I’d actually consider ‘bad’; the occasionally musically lackluster ones are often redeemed by great lyrics.

 

Hope you enjoy these selections. I’ve included video links to each song as well.

 

• Teachers (1967)
• One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong [Live] (BBC Broadcast 1968)
• Story of Isaac (1969)
• Avalanche (1971)
• You Know Who I Am [Live] (Live Songs 1973)
• Nancy [Live] (Live Songs 1973)
• Lover Lover Lover (1974)
• There Is A War (1974)
• Do I Have To Dance All Night [Live] (rare Live In Paris single – with Laura Branigan 1976)
• The Guests (1979)
• The Gypsy’s Wife (1979)
• If It Be Your Will (1984)
• Take This Waltz (1988)
• Anthem (1992)
• Boogie Street (2001)
• The Letters (2004)
• Steer Your Way (2016)
• It Seemed The Better Way (2016)


Also considered including Master Song (1967), Stranger Song (1967), Waiting For The Miracle (1992), and Who By Fire (Live In London 2009), but I’m guessing moderate listeners already tend to know these

P.S. At the bottom of the post are a few photos I took during the candlelight vigil at LC’s house in the Plateau, Montreal, a ceremony whose mournings and somber festivities extended for many days


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Note: Clearly these links will not work in every country, and some of them will be removed from the internet over time. 

• Teachers (1967)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XzotawVmmVc

• One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong [Live] (BBC Recording 1968)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ON7-tf0-3Ys

• Story of Isaac (1969)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SzSSeeJRn2c

• Avalanche (1971)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQe88ybEIe8

• You Know Who I Am [Live] (Live Songs 1973)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAPhSmlfnmo

• Nancy [Live] (Live Songs 1973)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nr7nkyRK9bQ

• Lover Lover Lover (1974)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYkJuAb0mMk

• There Is A War (1974)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ncdY2nGKzBs

• Do I Have To Dance All Night [Live] (rare Live In Paris single – with Laura Branigan 1976)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqzdk6NhAs4

• The Guests (1979)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TxY_8Tu1CoI

• The Gypsy’s Wife (1979)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cky05oQAIsc

• If It Be Your Will (1984)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_Qk_4emjEs

• Take This Waltz (1988)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytdjYjM-cLg

• Anthem (1992)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCS_MwkWzes

• Boogie Street (2001)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rswKZ0PNY_0

• The Letters (2004)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFcrn8Dg2LI

• Steer Your Way (2016)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nyMrjGX2vk

• It Seemed The Better Way (2016)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nyMrjGX2vk

 

– Nov 12, 2016

 

 

 

 



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dove_crossed

The American electorate has become so divided in 2016 that those who don’t plan to vote for DT have been puzzled and distraught by how so many— seemingly 45% or more of voters— can be willing to support him. This succinct analysis highlights some of the reasons as to how this situation has come about.


The reasons why someone like DT can rise to power in the contemporary United States— and shockingly enough, gain so much traction in the polls in a matter of days before the election, after Clinton held a substantial lead after the debates— are complex and somewhat unprecedented.

Some of the main ones include:

• Relativism (or ‘Radical Subjectivism’) sweeping the world as the prevailing philosophy in the last half-century— contributing to a diminishing of reason and anti-intellectualism
• Acculturation by and addiction to Media over the last century (especially with the advent of the Internet and Social Media over the last 25 years)— much of which is sensationalistic and manipulative
• Fear of suffering in myriad forms (shame, injury, poverty, unneededness) and death (ego dissolution)— some of these fears natural, some culturally constructed
• Threats of Futuristic technologies, human redundancy through Automation and Globalization, and seemingly random Terrorism
• The rise of the automobile and related infrastructure, as well new cultural norms, leading to a loss of community and increasing isolation and loneliness
• Consolidation of power, and subterfuge, coercion, and oppression (economic and emotional) by large corporations and wealthy vested interests and their media and governmental outlets and connections

 

Leading to:

• People only paying attention to media outlets that already ratify one’s own opinions—
many of which are intentionally untrue and manipulative
• Ignorance (diminished education)
• Primarily responding through emotion
• Diminished capacity for reason (loss of discrimination)
• Centring on the self and stifled sense of empathy (diminished empathy, intersubjectivity, and ability to take other perspectives)
• Only short-term attention span (loss of long-term memory span)
• Addiction to regular sensationalism (as an escape from one’s fears)
• Total identification of one’s ‘self’ with one’s thoughts and opinions (most of which come from media and society)

At this crucial juncture, let us hope that, nonetheless, the balance tips in favor of Reason and Compassion, and a person whose actions are inveterately fascist, racist, sexist, derogatory, sexually predatory, swindling, paranoid, vindictive, and pathologically lying does not become the leader of the most economically, militarily, and technologically powerful country in the world— which could easily lead to darkly dystopian, World War, and armageddon scenarios, setting back civilization for decades and centuries— and that just as many of these detrimental forces emerged in the last centuries, many equally beneficial ones conflux and civilization evolves for the better and effloresces in the 21st century


– Nov 7, 2016

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white-fang

 

 

I’m about 3/4 through the novel White Fang by Jack London. I never had given much thought about this late 19th / early 20th century American writer other than in the context of forgotten, lesser ‘classics.’ I was flabbergasted when I began reading it. His writing style in this novel is excellent: deft, incisive, evocative, eloquent, rarely overwrought. Some of the sentences are some of the finest I’ve read in American literature...

 

The plot is excellent. It’s essentially a bildungsroman about a wolf (actually a 3/4 wolf, 1/4 wild dog mix) from the wolf’s (or kindred animals’) point of view, told mostly in a limited 3rd person narrative which allows one to feel both the wolf’s perspective, as well as the wider worldly karmic and at times even ‘metaphysical’ context, which begins with the wolf’s parents years before he is born…

 

The plotting of the first section is rather ingenious in that it doesn’t even hint that the book will be a bildungsroman, but begins with two sled-men in the remote Yukon, portrayed almost as a remote planet, during a famine in the wilderness, hired to bring back the body of a wealthy businessman’s wannabe adventurer son who recklessly traveled and froze to death there, way overschedule and running out of rations and energy, as they are aped by a pack of wolves that each night, in spite of their best efforts, kill some of of their sled dogs. The denouement in this section is exceptional…

 

London’s psychological understanding of wolves and wild dogs is amazing. Surely there are probably some inaccuracies here and there, but overall it seems to be unparalleled. It’s as if he had been a wolf in a previous life. His knowledge of wildernesses and the life of the wild is also keen…

 

Sometimes he makes statements about animal instinct, heredity, and other biological impulses far beyond his time, merely by dint of intuition, which only recently have been gaining some credence and articulated scientifically (Epigenetics, for example). He also, sparingly, manages to make profound metaphysical observations. The first section in which he is describing the whiteness, vastness, inhospitality, and severeness of the arctic landscape is especially piquing…

 

The book of course does have some missteps, as all books do, some passages out of character, but overall I’m very surprised by how good it is and, per this, how little London is remembered today. I would assume it’s one of his best. Also get the sense that, interestingly enough, he may not actually have had a deep understanding of *human* psychology and relations. In this novel the human characters are perfectly serviceable and realistic, but their roles and interiors are secondary, exist mainly in service of showing the interiors and developments of the animal characters…

 

Anyway, highly recommended. A great (re)discovery.



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We recognize a few types of environmental and sensory Pollutions (Air, Land, Water, and less considered, Noise, Light, Visual, and Thermal). But we fail to consider some of the most harmful types of all: Emotional and Mental (or Psychic) Pollution.

For instance, watching contemporary television or surfing the web indiscriminately leads to a lot of these kinds of Pollution. Closely following the 24 hour Reality TV “Politainment” landscape that politics has sadly become, likewise. As a friend of mine commented recently: ‘I’m just exhausted with Trump as mental pollution. I can’t pay that close attention anymore. It’s awful for my health’

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Donating = Loving

It is a pleasure bringing you writings and other media through FWIW, but the site takes a lot of time to run (curate, write for, illustrate, code, share, etc)— sometimes a hundred plus hours a month— and incurs considerable costs to sustain. Donations from engaged readers like yourself are indispensable for it to continue running and remain Ad Free... If you derive any joy and value here, please consider becoming a Supporting Regular, with a modest recurring Monthly Donation of your choice, between a cup of tea and a dinner. (Note: You don’t actually need a PayPal account; just use any credit or debit card and click through.)

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