Suggested Audio Candy:
 Madonna “True Blue”
 Gloria Gaynor “I Am What I Am”
 Ira Newborn “Police Squad”
 LL Cool J “I Need Love”
 Madonna “True Blue (Reprise)”
I always was a sucker for The Muppets. So many childhood memories have been supplied courtesy of Jim Henson and his marvelous magical workshop. If somebody were to inquire as to who my hands-down favorite Muppet would have been then, after careful consideration, I would likely plump for Beaker. While many would consider him to be self-obsessed on account of everything always being about “me, me, me”; I found him an absolute delight to watch and, each time his blank expressionless gaze appeared on-screen, I would double over in fits of hysteria. However, there were many other pretenders to his throne and one of them would have to be the Swedish chef. While his culinary skills were clearly questionable and I never once witnessed him washing his hands before preparing a meal, he was hugely endearing to all but the chickens he was tasked with cramming into his cooking pot. They didn’t much care for the cook’s admittedly shady kitchen antics but, poultry aside, the rest of us took him straight to our hearts the moment he wailed “hurdy gurdy” and began brandishing his cleaver.
In honor of our Scandinavian friend, and in the interests of fine dining, I have decided to prepare a meal for the Grueheads. Recently there have been an influx of new wandering souls who have wound up stumbling into the Rivers of Grue and that fills me with unparalleled joy. I spend all day every day preparing treats for the most wonderful group of people outside of the pensioners from Cocoon. I do this with various reasoning; the most base-level of which being the fact that I love nothing more than to spread good feeling. If my prose can put a smile on even one face then I have achieved my goal; to make others happy. That, in itself, is a chief factor in me sharing any daily findings when I delve into the old hippocampus. Another aim is to empower; not take the power from another’s hands but instead remind them that they harness it themselves. In the past week alone one of our sisters has began to scribe and that fills me to overflowing with immense pride. In addition, a gifted scribe who was already plying his trade has also joined forces with our growing family and, that too, makes for a deliriously happy Keeper.
So what makes a Gruehead and what does it actually mean? Well, it is largely down to your own deductions and will mean different things to different people no doubt. But in the interests of paying tribute to my good friend the Swedish chef, I have decided to break that shit down into bite-sized chunks and explain what, in my eyes, makes a Gruehead. Like all good menu options, it is largely open to interpretation, although certain ingredients invariably play their part in achieving the finished product. Thus I have prepared a meal for your consumption in an attempt at honing in on these glorious attributes and bringing them to the simmer. This checklist has helped deliver me from evil on too numerous an occasion to keep track of and, when all hope appeared lost and I spiraled toward my own infinite abyss, it damned well saved my bacon. Anyhoots enough about me, we’ve all heard my hard-luck stories countless times, what is more important to me right now is to find out what it has meant to you. So without further ado, release the chickens, and I shall chase them around the dinner table until which time as I manage to accost one of those scrawny little cluckers.
noun – adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.
Be exactly who you are; show your abrasions and wear your imperfections. If we are all on the same page then you won’t find judgement here. I’m far from perfect; by all accounts Richard Charles Stevens is the most average of Joes. I participate in all of your regular day-to-day duties; release a stool around lunchtime like clockwork, eat food which clearly has no nutritional value, and wind up the day with a spot of sensual self-massage just like the next man. However, as the Keeper of The Crimson Quill, false representation becomes a meaningless and soulless exercise, one which I have no interest in facilitating. I stand before you all, warts and all, pointing out various embarrassing tidbits of information and placing them in the public domain for the whole world to see. Recently, along with Scarlet Genesis, this was taken to the extreme as we revealed ourselves literally in a piece cunningly titled The Reveal. Don’t worry; this won’t become a habit. There’s only so many times you can see a naked butt or crown jewels before they begin to lose their impact. But it was still imperative we do this as our integrity was there for all to witness and people could see just how much this, and all of you, mean to us.
Being ourselves to the nth degree has been wholly liberating. If you have spent much time perusing the archives and familiarizing yourself with the consistent tone of my body of work; then you will already be aware that honesty offers a policy I have rather a lot of faith in. My opinions are something which I stand ferociously behind at all times as they are individual to me and have seen me evade pratfall on many an occasion. I don’t hold onto my beliefs; instead I let them fly free like winged monkeys. When I write introspectively, which is unerringly the case even when scribing third-person fiction, I reveal my soul. I’ve long since given up being precious about it as, should I depart this plane of existence at any given moment, then they will be all that remains. If I disagree with an opinion then I will state it, not to be cantankerous, but to spark debate as that is a healthy endeavor when controlled appropriately. Through interaction, we learn, it’s as simple as that. We may stand staunchly beside our beliefs but we also live in a subjective world which everyone sees through a different set of eyes. If we can ascertain a little more about the make-up of others, then we tool ourselves for the road ahead.
noun – cheerful or joyful gaiety; mirth; hilarity; laughter.
A good sense of humor is imperative. I make no secret of the fact that it is, in fact, comedy where I sit most comfortably. Laughter apparently keeps us from aging and thus, in my endeavor to be like Peter Pan and never have to deal with puberty, I don the shoes of a clown and commandeer his wayward tricycle. This is clearly very much intentional; writing darker subject matters asks that much more of me as it can leave me deflated like an inner tube with a slow puncture. It’s not that I can’t write dark; indeed many of my proudest works have been bereft of any discernible humor. But should I post in the daylight hours then I am mindful that you may well be crushed be the wheels of industry and in dire need of a little light tonic. At bedtime I become a little more impish and often roll out the night terrors. By this point most of us have settled with our foot spa and glass of Merlot so it seems only right to revel in the macabre a little as it is that which united us in the first instance.
When you smile, the whole world smiles with you. Alas, not my words, but I do agree with the sentiment. If I can be frank and unapologetic through my humor without the intention of attacking another then all the better for it. If that is at my own expense then all the better as I have no intention of taking it personally. The moment we stop being able to laugh at ourselves is a glum day indeed as there’s just so much comedy to have at one’s own expense. Because I make light of my own indignity it renders any satirical digs on others totally benign. It also affords me the opportunity of showing my sardonic side. It’s not all poppies and morning dew, many topics have me riled and, if I can level my often intense frustration with tongue firmly planted in cheek, then nobody requires a plaster and I still get to vent in the process. It’s win-win. My sharp tongue is never intended for one person unless that hapless unfortunate is Justin Bieber who I just get a kick from belittling. Instead, society feels the venomous tip of my licker and, the tabloid press, the steel-capped toe of my size nine shit kicker. But I’m always giggling surreptitiously to myself as I do.
noun – affection with no limits or conditions; complete love.
Love is much like a Frisbee. We throw it out willy-nilly and, if we’re fortunate, it is returned to sender. I have checked my wares and it would appear that it is in no shortage. What’s more, I’m not fussy with it. When I enter into an affiliation with another, I lay my hand down before the flop is necessitated. I guess there is a little contradiction to my method as there is one condition to my love and that is that it is returned in good health and unconditionally. Confused? So am I. And that’s fine. What I am saying in a nutshell is that if you don’t judge me then I won’t judge you but if you do judge me…then I won’t judge you. But the likeliness is I shall give you a wider berth. I will however still love you. Nobody ever said that the course of love would be all plain sailing and deck shoes; it’s the most complex emotion fathomable and spends most of its days engaging in rounds of knuckle-cracking with hate. I hate the word hate. It would appear it is the least troublesome to muster but that, in fact, couldn’t be farther from the truth. It messes with your karma; positions a little black storm cloud overhead and an impenetrable bubble around you. Defenses; those pesky emotional fortifications may well be necessary as a coping mechanism but, should you leap into the void and bank on love bailing your ass out at the 11th hour, then Indiana Jones will always gather his fedora before the inevitable hand-obliteration ensues.
Love changes everything. Again, not my words, but I do agree with it wholeheartedly. When, during the frosted folly of last winter, I teetered precariously over the pit of my own peril, it was healing hands that I had to thank for remaining topside. Like Bubba, I was hurled over the shoulder and marched from deep behind enemy lines and the whole search and repair effort touched me in ways I can barely place into prose. I can’t guarantee my guardian angels a sixty foot ocean trawler or a future gutting carp but I can do my best to ensure the Rivers of Grue are warm and accommodating upon your arrival. Make yourselves at home and I shall prepare you a warm mug of English tea, so long as you wash your cup up after. Love is one of life’s little consistencies that I crave; to see it spreading through interaction makes my tail twinkle. The real kicker is that I state it with hand firmly on heart. That way I can massage my aortic valve and facilitate its return. I’m not convinced that love makes the world go round as I’m sure there are plenty of physicists who would argue the toss on that one. But I do believe that it makes it spin more rewardingly.
So there we have it; a few key ingredients to becoming a Gruehead. When I see that word proceeded with a hash tag on somebody’s profile it fills me with immense satisfaction. I’m not rubbing my hands together with devilish glee chanting “I’ve bagged another one Mavis” or anything unceremonious like that. I may have volunteered myself as the Keeper of this unruly bunch but always remember that I am one myself. Power to the people; together we have meaning and purpose and Rivers of Grue provides the ideal Trojan horse for us to trundle forth within. We’re all in this together; whatever our creed, color, sexual orientation or personal inclination. I don’t know about you but that helps me sleep at night. Knowing that I will wake up each morning a part of something exclusive is enough to bring a solitary crimson tear to this old dog’s puffy peeper. I wish to part with a short poem by a dear brother of grue which sums our breed up to perfection. I urge you to read it in its authentic format and shall close with its original link but it just seems fitting to share it with you fine people. True Grue forever.
Behold friends…come – enjoy,
wondrous muses.. we must envoy,
weird old tales – chapter and verse,
we open up . to you….. a dark universe.
With the keeper of the quill firmly at the helm,
perception rockets to a different realm.
weird!!! crazy!!! true? …pray …what is real?
the truth- it’s truly …..what you feel
enjoy the paths ….he leads you on…
…to deep dark places……where you know you belong.
love and lust.. dark horrors…. all for you….
to the rivers of grue……