Suggested Audio Jukebox
 Nina Simone “Feeling Good”
 Musical Youth “Pass the Dutchie”
 Pointer Sisters “Jump (For My Love)”
 Lionel Richie “Hello”
 Duran Duran “A View To A Kill”
 Rick James “Super Freak”
 Bryan Ferry “Let’s Stick Together”
 George Formby “When I’m Cleaning Windows”
 Gene Kelly “Singing In The Rain”
 Nina Simone “Feeling Good (Reprise)”
Me again Grueheads. May I say, you’re all looking resplendent today. You see, when I awoke from a rather delightful dream (involving one of my personal Jesuses, Donald Sutherland) and waddled downstairs to prepare myself my morning beverage, I decided to pay a short visit to Twitter and peruse my feed and was promptly blown away by the outpouring of love, best wishes, and appreciation. Yesterday I posted Confessions and it appears to have struck a chord with many of you. I was already smiling as I ambled to my office but said smile is now simply stratospheric. Thus, I have shelved my original plan for the A.M. and decided to hang out with you fine people some more. Of course, there will need to be a thread as I understand that you have better things to do than sit around shooting the shit for the sake of it. Thus, there seemed no better way to start my day than by listing 10 Things I Love About Grue.
First things first and I feel compelled to elaborate what I mean by Grue. You see, while it hasn’t yet found its way into our dictionaries, the word has been provided with a brace of meanings. The second seems more relevent to us as it involves “gruesome quality or effect” and, considering the wonderful macabre is the common thread that binds us all, this pretty much hits the nail on its head dead center. That said, it has come to mean many things to many different people and, to me, a Gruehead represents way more than simply a bloodthirsty deviant. This particular collective are unique as, when I first built the foundations for Rivers of Grue, I was disinterested in enforcing boundaries. Freedom to operate was vital and, moreover, independence to express ourselves freely without fear of being condemned to the naughty step or deemed inappropriate. Conformity is so tiresome and, having spent the lion’s share of my adult life doing precisely that, I fancied a little bit of a change.
Thus, I don’t concern myself with walking on eggshells and tiptoeing through the tulips, regardless of how they tickle my ankles. Instead, I have a deep red pair of Doc Martens and fully intend on causing some tremors. Not the kind that wake the dead although, should the topsoil dislodge, then they’re most welcome to march alongside us. Have you ever played swingball with a zombie? Rather one-sided, let me tell you. That said, it’s also rather uproarious, particularly when the ball becomes lodged in their hollow eye sockets. Do we politely request they remove said sphere, remove any viscera, and give it a quick rinse before reconvening? Do we shit. We hit the back of their spuds full pelt with our rackets and force it free in a far more unruly manner. It isn’t that we have it in for these rigor mortis-ridden rot bags or wish them even a dash of harm, simply that they’re way past the need for necking ibuprofen and would expect absolutely no less from us.
Reprimand is such a prosaic endeavor and, being restricted from being precisely who we are, leaves us feeling like little more than battery hens. Fuck that shit with a red-hot poo poker, I’m all about the free range you see. While the other cranky roosters are cooped up in cages far too confined to accommodate their child-bearing midsections, we’re outside in the elements, clucking like crazy, and comparing notes on our lustrous feathers. I actually happen to be rather a sensitive soul but have learned the art of not taking everything to heart. It’s all a case of prioritizing really, should good vibes be hovering in my personal space with intent to massage my love muscle (not that one, although, while you’re down there), then I’ll gladly open up my rib cage and play shepherd. However, anything even mildly nefarious has no place traipsing around this particular organ. Cherry picking has always been key and the very reason I wear a bonnet like Muffet.
At any rate, I promised ten things and ten things I shall damn well provide. The following is an inventory of reasons why I have committed myself to this cause and will continue to do so until my ticket to ride is relinquished. If it all seems a little saccharine then fret not as I shall take every opportunity to stray from the path of righteousness en route. Who knows where it will lead us? I sure as shit muffins don’t. That’s the kicker right there. I’m still only halfway through the first of many daily caffeine fixes and couldn’t be less premeditated if I try. Thus, my angle is that it will feel as though I’m right there beside you as you tuck into your curds and whey. Granted, one opportunist bite and you’ll be straight to the emergency room for a tetanus jab, but I promise to keep my spindly limbs where you can see them at all times. So, without further ado, ten is the magic number right?
This just had to crop up first as, without it, things grow ugly fast. I’m the first to admit that encouraging words fuel my furnace and gratefully snack down on each superlative supplied. Who doesn’t get a kick out of hearing that they’re on the right track? I’ll never tire of this but, by the same token, am fully aware of the way that the human mind works. It is scientific fact that our egos bloat in such instances and I’m not about to argue the toss either. However, it is what we do with said data that truly defines us. My case in point is this: of the numerous glorious comments I received yesterday, one stated that, and I quote, “your pen seems guided by a higher power”. Needless to say I was promptly taken aback. So what did I do with such a majestic act of kindness? I scurried to my office, informed the Crimson Quill that it had reason to be cheerful and donated the accolade or paid it forward if you will.
Should I hold onto said praise then I’m in danger of believing my own hype and, in no time, I’m an evil overlord with plans for global domination and looking to exploit my new-found strength with the cruelest of intentions. So I feed the monkey so to speak. The proof is in the pudding as I am now up to my skull-cap in prose and gushing that belief straight back out there for the greater good. There’s a common theory that knowledge is power and, should that be accurate, then shared knowledge equates to collective strength. I have never been able to fathom the idea of holding onto sovereignty and keeping it under one’s hat. Surely it is far more beneficial to pass the dutchie and let that manifest elsewhere also. It just seems like common sense to me and, in my contorted mind, the fact that the act appears so uncommon just makes it even more appealing.
2: Never Spurning The Learning
I will never profess to having sussed the mysteries of the universe as, the moment one shuts up shop, is the same instance that they become set in their ways. We’ve all seen senior citizens harping on about how they know better than anyone and, while admittedly they are leaps and bounds ahead in the life experience stakes, it’s the whole reason why so many of them flounder by the roadside with nobody willing to assist their path through the traffic. I’m generalizing of course as many of my favorite people have been in their twilight years. My grandmother, in particular, was lucid right up to last doors, and she made it to her mid-nineties. I’m sure she would have fallen by the wayside many moons prior had it not been for her thirst for learning. We all make mistakes, some more than others, but each one provides an opportunity for enlightenment.
Take my prose for example. My vocabulary is vast and, while it would be effortless to suggest that I’m the modern-day reincarnation of Shakespeare, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Instead, I have quenched my thirst for learning at every given opportunity and milked the online thesaurus for all it is worth. However, it’s never been a case of wishing to appear a great thespian, and each subsequent visit to the word bank has been backed up with rigorous research into what that word really means. As a result, I seldom ever frequent the place anymore. In the three years since I dedicated my heart and soul to becoming a scribe, my mind has been the equivalent of a snowball, picking up every twig and berry in its path as it hurtles toward the foot of its hilly incline. Once it reaches the bottom, I push it back to the summit, and repeat the process. While I may have been responsible for the untimely demise of three venison, six squirrels, and a Sasquatch (don’t ask), any positives have far outweighed the negatives. That said, I’m a little perturbed that my snowball has a yellowish hue now.
3: Meeting and Greeting
Throughout our lives, we are introduced to all manner of different people from all manner of different walks of life. Some we see ourselves in (after a few too many sambucas), others appear to have been cut from unfamiliar cloth. Whether male or female, black or white, gay or straight, chubby or slender, jock or goth, democrat or republican, ultimately matters not in my mind. Each to their own and I have no intention of treating one contrary to the other. Allow me to elucidate through the medium of film: I happen to be rather partial to William Lustig’s 1980 exploitation classic Maniac and Frank Zito is far from a congenial fellow. On the surface he may appear harmless but, once the midnight hour beckons, he can be found mincing around the Manhattan slums searching for stragglers of the fairer sex to relieve of their scalps. Not what you would call a pillar of the community then.
So the fact that I enjoy his company would suggest that I’m riddled with sickness right? Granted, I’m a puppy of the most poorly order but that doesn’t mean I’m about to take a leaf from his book so no need to shield those brows just yet. He is actually a fascinating case study and mine is not to judge his actions, merely to splash around in the cranium fluids he leaves in his wake. So he may have veered from the beaten track a little, so what? He’s a fictional character and, while representative of similarly afflicted pieces of work, affords us insight into bogus wiring and unresolved childhood baggage. Thankfully, I’m reasonably assured that none of the people I come into contact with are vicious serial killers with a pantry stuffed with mannequins, but they are a cosmopolitan bunch. I love that as each possesses their own idiosyncrasies and, thus, I’m more than content with playing doorman.
While primary introduction happens to be a forté of mine, I’m also rather pressed for time. You see, yesterday alone I released approximately 7500 words from my cortex, only 3000 of which have yet made it into the public domain. Moreover, I had no intention to undertake my current pilgrimage until my morningwood subsided today. That renders me somewhat impotent in regards to chewing the fat I’m afraid, but I ask that you consider this Grueheads. Currently I am in the midst of fashioning one helluva tweet and 140 characters have nothing on where this is headed. It turns out that I’m quite the social butterfly after all but I choose to be so in a way more eloquent than sending out pre-loaded tweets at clockwork junctures. That is just my way but it all boils down, once again, to prioritizing my time. I hold nothing whatsoever back when I scribe and trust that each article supplies a whole heap of insight.
Perspective is key as there isn’t a thing neglectful about my endeavor when you consider it. Jumping to conclusions is a foolish act and an ideal example of this is the film appraisals I write. Should you skip to the Crimson Quill’s Judgement then it may seem that you have said movie licked. However, that is the only part of the process that involves an exact science. I imparted a score of 4/10 on Claudio Fragasso’s shamefully inept Troll 2 but, should you dig beneath the veneer, then you will see how much fondness I have for this delightfully shoddy little number. Eyes on stalks and heads on swivels then as it’s all ultimately a question of vantage. This translates to everyday interactions as, it may appear that others are crabby, but who can claim to really know what is going on in their lives at any given moment? Thus, I keep my eyes as wide open as my mind wherever possible and see that much more as a result.
Flaws are good. Achieving perfection is a thankless task and not one I have any real interest in striving for. Do I partake in daily bowel movements? Indeed, the porcelain chariot is my home away from home for at least seven minutes of every calendar day without exception. I’m pleased to report that everything is tickety boo in that department and there is nothing flawless about feces. But we all go there, every last one of us clenches for dear life as we thread our inanimate objects through the eyes of our needles. Likewise, we’re all riddled with imperfections and that is something to celebrate in my book. Gandhi may have been something of a quintessential human being but that doesn’t mean he didn’t suffer from impromptu bouts of rickshaw rage once in a while. I’d rather be spoiled than unblemished as each scar tells a tale and reminds me of the perils of juggling cutlery.
Everywhere I look I see imperfection and that, in itself, is simply perfect to me. The Grueheads embrace every last quirk and, thus, I feel free from prying eyes and smiling assassins. Allow me to elaborate by way of analogy. At first glance, Imogen Peccible is a sight for the sorest of eyes. Her breasts are perfectly symmetrical and voluptuous in the extreme. Her clitoris is free of unsightly overhang and as tight as Leo Sayer’s perm. Both buttocks work in unison and gyrate in a most agreeable manner as she walks. Even the smallest toe on each of her perfectly pedicured feet possesses its own nail. In short, Imogen is as perfect a creation as fuzzy felt and it would appear that she’s every bit as satisfying to fondle. That said, she’s a fucking moose bag. That’s right, her personality is akin to a plank of ply wood and, while her peepers are ocean blue and accompanied by the longest lashes this side of Snuffleupagus, there is nothing whatsoever behind them. Meanwhile, her cousin Erin Orroneous looks like shit in a diaper but her witty anecdotes are to die for. You getting my gist?
There is something to be said for sticking together through thick and thin. Without the necessary glue that binds, we are little more than spare parts and destined for the scrap heap. Together, we can change the fucking world. As it is not in our nature to judge others, we focus our energy on acceptance. Moreover, should one of our number be suffering unduly, then a good old-fashioned rally round is in order. Granted, I may be absent as certain hardships are faced, at least in a physical sense. However, I take great comfort from knowing that, while I’m cooking up tasty treats for you rowdy scavengers, there is always somebody on hand to hear any cries and lend the appropriate shoulder to lean on. Thus, we act as a collective entity, bonded by an unbreakable adhesive that ensures we don’t fall apart at the seams. This is not a one-man show, far from it, the Grueheads are a brood unlike any other I have ever encountered in my forty-one years plus change.
Recently, one of our own has become homeless and, knowing this particular soul intimately, that sucks like Lewinsky at a fundraiser. Should there not be a light source around, then darkness would be too overbearing to escape and any hope would then become vanquished. That is where the most seemingly insignificant exchange can make all the difference. It only takes one interaction to brighten an outlook. We are adhesive through and through and, while admittedly my particular brand of sticky residue is somewhat salty, it is also reported to be great for the skin. United we stand and we fall the same way. Thus, there is always a helping hand and accompanying band-aid close by. Meanwhile, should we take a tumble as we invariably do, then laughter is infectious and even more so when all chortles are in unison.
7: Why So Serious?
Speaking of which, I’m the first to poke fun at my own expense. Ego isn’t terribly uppermost in my list of priorities, whereas a little harmless self-effacing never goes amiss. Should pratfall loom, as is often the case when both feet are of the lefty variety, then I will embrace it like that bearded auntie at family gatherings whose bear hug can shatter our sternums. I have no inclination to be the coolest cat on the block but every intention to celebrate my clusterfuck tendencies. I have oodles of belief in my ability as a scribe but tooting my own trumpet isn’t half as engaging as fumbling my tuba. Clown shoes may appear vaguely ridiculous to the naked eye but at least your phalanges aren’t cramped. As I climb out of my slumber pit each morning and perform the obligatory stretch, there’s a pair waiting for me by my bedside like carpet slippers and I coordinate my wardrobe around them with considerable merriment.
It is a sad day when you can’t find fun in your own foibles. I make no secret of the fact that a fair percentage of my daily chuckles come at the expense of others but that still leaves a hefty wedge unaccounted for. That is where I come in as banana skins are plentiful and a pair of size twenty-sixers has less chance of spotting them on the horizon. Should another be punished by a cruel twist of fate then, providing the damage is only to their pride, I’m sniffing back mucus in a picosecond. So what makes me immune to such comeuppance? Indeed, should it my legs flailing as I struggle like a breakdancing roach to return to my vertical stance, then it is even more uproarious as additional embarrassment is like gin to tonic. I’m not proud or, at least, not too much to discern the funny side in humiliation. There’s a time and place to be serious and it has nothing to do with receiving egg to my face.
8: Senses x5
Sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste – these are the traditionally recognized methods of perception and I’m looking to engage as many as possible through my prose at any given moment. Allow me to tackle each of these in turn. The first is something of an easy win as you have to see the words to be able to read them. Thus, the canvas that my prose adorns is purposely blank. No distraction, just good old-fashioned black on white as simplicity is key to making each word count. That said, it can easily become a tad parched, particularly when you’re a visual creature like myself. That’s where the optical stimuli comes into play. Imagery is critical to assisting each word to spring forth from the page and it is never simply a case of plugging up the gaps. With each pictorial comes opportunity to link to the next stanza. Here, I shall provide an example. Guess what I’m up to right now?
You see? For the record, my multitasking skills are for shit and I had one last night so feel obliged not to exceed the healthy 24-hour quota. But that is the beauty of visuals, when pasted thoughtfully. Moreover, I only source the finest I can get my grubby little hands on. High resolution, bright, and evocative. So that is the retinas catered for then. Next up is ears and, again, it’s about keeping it relevant. I have a great affinity to audio and, while its fiddle is played second to watching movies until my eyes burst in their cradles, have eclectic tastes that stretch far and wide. Thus, I’m looking to cater for this sense also. The funny thing is that I struggle to read and listen in unison but this is where volume plays a part. Laptops are notorious for their lousy built-in speaker range and it’s all about setting that volume accordingly. In a respect, it’s a little like taking an elevator ride. Just a dash of accompaniment to make up for the fact that some wretched ankle biter thumbed every last button on his exit. Fret not as, when his back was turned, I planted a booger on the little fuck’s earlobe. Always one step ahead me. The clown shoes help there.
Anyways, touch is required to be metaphorical as technology hasn’t quite evolved far enough yet for me to grope the bosom of my readership. Therefore, I look to make that connection another way. Should something resonate on a personal level, then I’m right up to my cuticles in back fat. This is made easier by the fact that I scribe from my soul cage and use dialogue as a mental transfusion. Touching nerves, striking chords, linking diodes – these are my primary objectives and I strive to do so without exception. Smell is a tough one if I’m honest. However, should flatulence pay me an unforeseen visit then, rest assured, I won’t blame it on the cat. As for taste, well it is questionable that I possess this in any great abundance. However, should enough of the other four senses come into play, then I’m well on my way to your palate. Should I be attempting to scare you witless, then perhaps a metallic tang will be vaguely possible. Make you laugh? Then, by doing so until snot streams, one simple snort and the back of your tongue receives express delivery. Best I can do I’m afraid.
9: Timing The Rhyming
Inside some of us is a poet and, while not my personal bag, I have been known to engage in a spot of verse from time to time. I’m pretty old-school in this respect and prefer limericks to anything else so it usually ends in rhyming. This is far from my most comfortable zone as I find poetry more restrictive to my flow than freeing. However, there are plenty of ways to be poetic without conforming to the norm and I incorporate this into my natural flow wherever possible. Occasionally, I can refrain no longer, and step away from my cosy confines to chirp an impromptu ditty, for shits and grins mostly. Matter of fact, I’m fairly assured that I packed my lute this morning. Why yes, here it is. It would be a shame not to use it right?
I trust that your stay has been pleasant thus far
and if not then I’m standing corrected
It is not my intention to miss any tricks
and leave you all feeling rejected
I feel trapped in my rhyme will break free in no time
we’ll be back to our program post-haste
would you think it a crime or consider me slime
if I lower the bar of good taste
you can blame the Tourette’s as I have to confess
that my shameful disease is a tick
both my heart and my soul will just have to console
that they’re not as much fun as my dick
It never talks back and its only attack
is a smidgen of unforeseen spitting
thus I cut it some slack and just blame my nut sack
but it seems most reluctant of quitting
The two are connected and when I’m erected
there’s no talking down my old fella
any fluids rejected may well be infected
so I’m thankful to own an umbrella
Don’t ask as I have no answers. To be frank, I’m glad that ordeal is over so we can return to our regular program. You see, number ten is almost upon us and I’m far more at-ease without the rigid regulation of poetry. I think it comes down to my desire not to let the grass grow beneath my feet. The element of surprise is a glorious thing and I love nothing more than to deviate from my path once in a while. Comfort zones are fine and dandy but sometimes you learn more about yourself by vacating. So what have I learned from this exercise? Precious little aside from the fact that I really need to get out more.
10: Days Like Today
This is the thing I adore about Grue as it wasn’t forecast from the offset. By spreading a little cheer, I feel well perked and refreshed, and the sky is no longer the limit. I think this is the most gratifying thing about calling myself a Gruehead as we all strive together to reach a little deeper and climb a little higher. Together we are a force most potent but not through a need to throw our collective weight around. We’re all humble, never spurning the opportunity for learning, adept at both meeting and greeting, perceptive in the extreme, imperfect, adhesive, able to laugh at ourselves, looking to engage every last sense and poetic in our own way. That is why I shall always be grateful for days like today.
Richard Charles Stevens
Keeper of The Crimson Quill
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