Friday, February 29, 2008

Home-cooked fal-awfuls

The experiment with non-meat meal alternatives is yielding mixed results. Things were going along swimmingly until I was gently informed that ice cream and popcorn do not comprise a ‘healthy vegetarian diet’. Who knew? Since then I’ve added plastics and metal alloy to the menu.

While the cook-from-frozen boxed falafels failed to cook to perfection, the pair of plastic lids that I forgot to remove from the top of the mini convection oven - most certainly did. Check out their gooey remains:

I now owe Steve-o a new liquid-tight casserole dish along with a new set of stovetop element covers. That's right. Element covers. Another recent kitchen conquest had me wondering why my pot of water was still not boiling while the white element cover next to it was turning a rich shade of brown. Could it be… I turned on the wrong element? Could be, rabbit. Could be.

Here are the falafels. The pic doesn’t quite reveal the reality: That the resulting falafelesque goop patty precisely resembled a German Sheppard sized mass of dog puke. The voluminous foamy kind, that is. Not the stringy kind from eating grass. The kind they hurl upon eating way too much of something they shouldn’t have. All the garlic hummus in the world couldn’t save these bad boys:

Tip: Topside lid residue peels easily away if you leave it alone until the oven cools.

Who wouldn’t be proud to serve this at their next dinner party?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

It's all about meme

Got this questionnaire from Suki. She didn’t tag me in writing but I picked up her psychic suggestion that I participate.

Alphabet Meme #2

A - Available: Only in the most spectacular of circumstances.

B - Best friend: Porn King. Mind you, Doctor Lock, Professor Plonk and Cap’n Vino all have sufficient best-friend-like properties to qualify. I’m pretty lucky.

C - Cake or Pie: Nobody gives a rat’s ass whether I prefer cake or pie. How could you waste such a useful letter as ‘C’? You could have asked for ‘Country of origin’ or ‘Craziest thing you ever did’ or ‘Craziest thing you ever did in bed’. How about ‘Cartoon character you most resemble’, ‘Car you drive’, ‘Colour of your pubic hair’ or something to do with cats?

D - Drink of choice: Rusty Nail, Chai latte or a 2002 Californian Shiraz

E - Essential thing used everyday: Penis (for peeing and little else, unfortunately.)

F - Favourite colour: I’m not a colourist. I’m politically correct that way. Hey, you can tell a Canadian created this meme, eh? The ‘OU’ thing.

G - Gummi bears or worms: I’d bet my money on the worm. Gummi bears are inanimate. And edible.

H-Hometown: Lat: 43.698172, Long: -79.746355, Earth

I - Indulgence: I’m 305 lbs. Take a guess.

J - January or February: Hmm. Let’s see. January: Blizzards, heating bills, influenza, slipping on the ice, traffic jams, stuck in snow, driving into ditches and freezing my tits off – versus February: Snow storms, heating bills, coughing and sneezing, slipping and falling, traffic jams, spinning tires, careening off the road and frost bite. Tough call. I’d say they’re equally enchanting.

K - Kids and names: If a girl: Arwen or Scout. If a boy: Dashel or Belhap Sattlestone Wirldess ag Miracloat roo Cononson. Mind you, the one and only reason I’d ever consider having a child would be so that I could name someone Belhap Sattlestone Wirldess ag Miracloat roo Cononson. The world is suspiciously short of them.

L - Life: Well, that’s a little deeper then the cake/pie question, isn’t it? Life, I suppose, is: Laughter, music, running, shooting, scoring, surviving everything they throw at you, gazing at the moon, tears of sorrow, tears of joy, puppy breath, snow in your hair, the love of a friend, holding someone beautiful, being tossed by the ocean; asking questions, solitude, the deafening roar of silence, facing the empty page, courage, letting go, leaving it all behind, taking the red pill, embracing the evil in yourself, wrestling with your ego, chiseling at your mask, earthshine on night clouds, touching the stars with your mind, stupefaction at your own miraculous existence, forgiveness, tears of pity, tears of wonderment, tastes of perfect freedom, believing in a better place and trying to make it so. Or something like that.

M - Marriage date: Sorry. Wrong number.

N - Number of siblings: First off, they ought to call ‘em squiblings. I have two, biologically, but only one that I actually squibble with.

O - Oranges or apples: Apples for sure. Though slightly less aerodynamic, they shatter upon impact more spectacularly.

P - Phobias: Cancer, heart disease, really large insects, children, getting published, black holes, SAPDFOTU, my ego, noise and Big Brother.

Q - Quote: Matt Groening’s definition of love: Love is a snowmobile racing across the tundra and then suddenly it flips over, pinning you underneath. At night, the ice weasels come.

R - Reason to smile: the Illicit Sweetheart, being alive, Robot Chicken, snorting milk out your nose, kids at Christmas and 13,995 more things...

S - Season: Rosemary. No, dill. Wait. Those are herbs. Um. Pepper. Oh, screw that. Ginger. Do herbs count as seasoning? Okay, rosemary.

T - Tag three people: Babs, Supermom and Aequitas. Participation is entirely optional.

U - Unknown fact about you: If I told you, it would become known, now, wouldn’t it?

V - Vegetable you do not like: Artichokes, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, beets, celery, parsnips, bok choy, spinach, red peppers, yellow beans, lima beans, green beans, green peppers, green peas, chick peas, asparagus, eggplant, mushrooms, lettuce, corn, cabbage, leeks, pickles, bamboo shoots and – oh – oh, so especially that vile goddamned monstrosity they call… cucumber. Uggh.

W - Worst habit: Staying up too late. It’s 1:36 AM currently.

X - X-rays you have had: How did I know this question would be on here? Um. More than I’ve had xylophones anyway. Mostly bones and stuff. Internal things.

Y - Your favorite food: Yes.

Z - Zodiac: Rhymes with Kodiak, roadie yak, and explodiac. That’s all I know.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Unbearable Lightness of Steve-o

More random snippets from Steve-o, the roommate; as always, without context. His songs in italics.

The spices…
Are coming out
The spices are coming out
It’s chili time
The spices
Are coming out
Kidney beans kidney beans
Kidney beans kidney beans
Hoagies and grinders
Hoagies and grinders
Kidney beans kidney beans
Kidney beans kidney beans
Hoagies and grinders
Hoagies and grinders
Sloppy Joe
Sloppy sloppy Joe…

My name is Klaus and I wash away ze soap bubbles wiss my Klaus Soap Cream

Brush your teeth
Round and round
Circle small
Up and down

I’m gonna make double-crust pie. Nobody likes that pussy single crust stuff. Pussy single crust pie – that’s what killed Napoleon. That or gonorrhea. Fucking Napoleon.

Chicken, sausage, ham!
Chicken, sausage, ham!
Chicken, sausage, ham!
Chicken, sausage, ham!

Is thith the real thing?

Is thith jutht fantathy?
Caught in a Tolkienish landthcape
No ethcape from reality
Open your eyeth
Look up to the skieth and thee
I'm jutht a hobbit,
I need no thympathy…

Do you think if Doctor Kevorkian dies of natural causes he’ll be considered a hypocrite? What...? I’m just asking.

Look at us. We’re two Patties. What? I’m a Patty and you’re a Patty. We’re two Patties. Just like a McBurger. I don’t get it. Look, your name’s Pat. You’re nickname is Patty. My name’s Patty. Together, we’re two Patties. Just like a fucking big mac. I still don’t get it. Okay, look. You’re name’s Pat…

It’s Beets Night in Canada
Beets beets beets
Who loves beets
Beets beets beets
Stephen loves beets

Boom ptuh ptuh ptuh boom boom ptuh ptuh
It’s Poooooooontacular
This is the loudest poon show ever.

Image unceremoniously swiped from

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Aequitas: The Straight Man

FWG assures me his is a lighthearted blog, but what is humour without the stern straight man for reference?

I go by Aequitas. You may call me Sir. I lead a very mundane life as a short-order cook, and soon-to-be student. Clearly, I enjoy writing, and, you'll find, talking about myself at length.

My job affords me the opportunity to observe people in every state of being; over their morning coffee, lunch with business associates, or totally FUBAR'd on karaoke night. All this has taught me one thing; no matter your race, religion, gender, age, or financial status, everyone is capable of being remarkably fucked up. A lot of times it's humourous. Sometimes, it's sad. Usually I take something away from that...unless, of course, I'm getting my ass handed to me by the printer.

Every time I hear a dot matrix, I die a little inside...

This is to be my (occasional, but hopefully frequent) contribution to FWG's fine little junction of tubes.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

When PoP caNs ATTacK!

Contact lenses can make you blind!

So I go to open a can of pop and it’s fighting me. The little tiny cave-in hatch thingy doesn’t want to cave in. So I add a little muscle and what do you suppose happens? The metal tab thingy, under severe pressure, snaps off and flies like a bullet at my eye, ricochets off the right lens of my eyeglasses and sails through the air.

Good old fashioned sturdy eye-glasses people! Had I worn contacts it would probably have sliced right through it – and my eye to boot!

Wear glasses for safety.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

FWG Versus the Dirty Thief

I stayed up late last night watching Clint Eastwood classic Pale Rider. My bid to sleep-in this morning was ruined by a phone call. It went like this:


“Hello. May I speak to Stephen [McBeano-Windchime]?”

“No. He’s away on vacation.”

“Are you the homeowner?”


“Do you know when I might be able to reach Mr. [McBeano-Windchime]?”

“Concerning what matter, please?”

“This is Sears Carpet Cleaning. We have a special offer for-”

“Excuse me but neither of us support merchants who stoop to telephone solicitation. We don’t believe it’s ethically moral.”

“Well, it’s ethically moral to work, you know!”

“Oh, I know, honey. That’s why I’m hiring Mr. [McBeano-Windchime] to find you and kill you. Since I’m paying him – since he’s working – it’s ethically moral to murder you. Sorry about your luck. Hope your will is in order.”

Okay – that was a complete lie. That’s what I wish I’d said. But I was a little groggy being woken up so really, it actually went like this:

“Well, it’s ethically moral to work, you know!”

“Well, Scooby Scooby Doo. Where are you? You got some work to do now!”

Okay. I’m lying again. It really went like this:

“Well, it’s ethically moral to work, you know!”

“Oh. Oh. Well, why didn’t you say so? In that case, come on over and clean the shit off my rugs. There’s weiner poopies all over them. By all means. Come on down.”


Alright. Alright. I’ll tell the truth this time:

“Well, it’s ethically moral to work, you know!”

“Oh it is, eh? Well you’re a DIRTY FILTHY THIEF!”

[Editor’s note: What FWG really said was: “Not when you’re stealing my time, it’s not.” And then she hung up on him. End of story.]

Shut up, editor.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Day 98

Behold! The Corner of Doom is finally vacated!

But does that mean the end of the reign of the Evil Trinity of Malevolent Interlopers? Alas, not so. Our scouts reveal that they have taken up residence in the Hallway of Ultimate Evil. And like that legendary ruler of Mordor, they are gathering dark forces around them.

Two cases of beer, a jug of laundry detergent and a big blue bag of video game remote controls.

And what's this? The brown bag. In it lies an empty box. The box my new winter boots came in. Crap! I'm revealed a hypocrite. Well, that's the end of you, interloping empty boot box bag! To the recycle bins with you!

The cold war drags on...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

My dilemma

I don’t know if I’ll end up hitting the publish button and reveal this on the blog or not but I need to write about it. If I have published it, know that I expect nothing humorous to come out of this so if you’re looking for jokes I beg you to skip this post and move on.

I’m not going to try to explain here why I hold no belief in such ideas as good or evil or right or wrong. How even the concept of species and the label ‘human being’ are to me, only ideas; only patterns of generalized observation that contain no qualitative certainty. How the only things that exist in my perception of reality are matter, cause and effect, the unique living experiences of each unique living organism and the natural consequences that punish or reward every action we take.

I’m being punished right now.

I have not awakened from a dream in which I brutally murdered a family of innocent people only to suspect that it might not have been a dream and had to grasp the horrific implications of it. Not precisely, anyway.

But I have been experiencing an awakening of another sort for a couple years now and the changes in my life are wildly profound. I’ve been relearning everything I once thought I knew and it was inevitable that this current reckoning would arise.

A couple weeks ago, while driving a long distance and pondering some of the great volume of material that I work with and measuring their great many connections against each other, I stumbled onto the flaws in some beliefs I chose to subscribe to more than twenty-five years ago and the disturbing reality of a 39-year-old habit. I was stunned by intense remorse and I broke down in tears and have done so several times since.

As a teenager I confronted the idea of vegetarianism and immediately dismissed it for three reasons.

1 - I was meant to be carnivorous and had the incisors to prove it.

2 – Life for a beast in the wild is brutal and typically ends in bloody violence. Life for a beast on a farm is surely more pleasant.

3 – If it weren’t for farming, these species would probably not exist but would be extinct or facing extinction for their failings under the laws of natural selection.

These arguments all collapse in the face of my current understandings, except that I really don’t know for sure about the life of a beast on a farm. And – as always – no understandings can be consolidated until I fully experience them with my own five senses.

So I will make no firm decisions about the future of my diet until I can experience the relevant realities. Getting onto family farms will be a cinch. Gaining access to industrial farms will be another matter altogether. And getting into slaughterhouses will be a significant challenge, I’m sure. But I must do it. I have no choice. The chances of finding balanced objective books or documentaries are almost nil. Every author and producer will surely have an agenda. But I’m determined to succeed. An acquaintance works at a Maple Leaf processing plant where killing is done but he doesn’t work in the killing area and he’s a junior person and he’s new there and is unlikely to welcome the risks in breaching his employer’s security. Mind you, I did write the resume that helped him get the job so perhaps he’s grateful enough.

Some interesting things have happened in this two-week period of troubled speculation. One could easily call them signs or omens but I know they are only coincidences. My favorite butcher closed down; went out of business. I was at the library looking for fantasy and sci-fi videos and spotted a DVD titled Earthlings. I grabbed it and immediately sensed that it had to do with the treatment of animals and not spaceships. Of course I watched it and found flaw in almost every word stated. Its agenda is clear. I kept a dinner date at the Keg steakhouse knowing that it might be the last steak I’d eat and allowing a qualified chef to make his case for meat eating. I chose the top sirloin labeled ‘our most flavorful steak’. It tasted utterly bland to me. Whether it was something psychological or because it was prepared unusually rare – I don’t know.

For now I can no longer buy the meat of mammals. My instincts suggest there is almost surely more cruelty behind it than I can tolerate. I will still eat fish and dairy for now; until I’m able to investigate those industries and make enlightened decisions.

The prospect of diet change is a troubling one. I’m generally not fond of fruits and vegetables. Starchy foods are an unwise choice for me. I’ve been living primarily off meat and dairy for some time now. I wish I knew more vegetarians. I could use a lot of advice.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

FWG and the Case of the Color-Blind Carpenter

Saturday morning. Busy day ahead. Lunch plans with Aequitas and a few other Nano writers. Dinner and movie plans with Professor Plonk and Captain Vino immediately afterward. And if all goes well, Sunday breakfast with the I.S.

I’ve got just enough time for a desperately-needed haircut before heading off to Hamilton. I’m starting to look like Jesus. Luckily Streetsville is the unlikely hair-n-nails capital of the world with no less than 32 merchants of the hairstylist/barber/manicure trade and it’s a cinch to find one this morning with an empty chair and an idle barber standing by.

“Nice and short on top, buzzed on the sides. The rest is at your discretion.”

“Square back or tapered?”

“I couldn’t care less. I never see the back.”

He does a fine job. I surrender a twenty including tip and then stare dumbly at the coat in my hands. It looks like my coat. Same color; black. Same style. Same label even – except – the fine print reads XL. I could have sworn my coat was an XXL.

I look back at the coat rack where five others hang. None of them look like mine. I pull the keys from the pocket of the coat in my hand and they are not my keys.

“Is something wrong sir?” asks the merchant.

“Yeah. Whoever owns this coat took mine by mistake.”

“That’s not your coat?”

“This isn’t my coat.”

“Hey, that’s my coat,” says the man in the chair who’s hair is being cut by the new barber lady. The lady with foul breath whom I shall never again allow near me.

“This is your coat?”


“Your coat’s not there?” says the merchant.


“Maybe you wore a different coat than usual.”

“None of these coats are mine.”

“There’s six coats there. There’s six of us in here. One of them must be yours.”

“No. There are six coats here because whoever took mine left his own behind.”

“Aye aye aye!” exclaims the chief barber in perfect Lou Costello manner.

We finally decipher that the puffy blue coat is that of the perpetrator. How he mistook it for my black one is a wonder. I’m briefly assured that he’ll soon return as I detect keys in the pocket. He’ll surely not get far without them. But when I reach into the pocket I pull out a handful of large carpentry nails instead.

The barber wants my phone number. He wants to send me home and call me when my coat is returned. I explain that I am now without any keys. I have access neither to my apartment or to my car and all my weekend plans are now in jeopardy.

He sends me to the nearby Starbucks coffee shop and promises to come and get me the moment the mystery dunce returns with my coat. He even tries to lend me his own coat and five bucks for coffee.

At the shop I order a “Chai Latte – venti” and am immediately approached by a skinny messy-haired older man with hands shoved into jacket pockets and an overall imbalanced look. My first guess is that he’s looking for monetary hand-outs on the way to the liquor store.

He mumbles something to me that vaguely resembles, “How are you today?”

In no mood to contribute to the presumed alcohol fund, I reply, “Not good. Someone took off with my coat.” I volunteer this info because it’s a preamble to the Sorry, bud, my money’s in my missing coat excuse.

He counters with something that vaguely resembles, “Mm bduh-brm nnuh mrnuhm nuhm brsszssrtle brnuhm.”

“I see,” says I, nodding politely, then moving off toward the beverage pick-up zone. I arrive and discover he has followed me.

“I want to say something to you,” he says. At least I think that’s what he said. This guy’s the mumble champion of all time. “And I hope you won’t get mad at me.”

Great. This ought to be good.

“Mm bduh-brm nnuh mrnuhm nuhm brsszssrtle brnuhm.”

“I’m sorry. I beg your pardon?”

“Duhrm bduh-brm nuhm brsszssrdle nnuh mrnuhm blrmnuhm your coat brnuhm.”

I bite my cheek and turn to the coffee boy. “Is that my chai latte?” I already know it’s not but I just need to make contact with the living world again. He shakes his head and casts a worried glance at the mumble champ.

“Lemme purt it thiz way,” he croaks, “When a window of oppruhtoonity clozes, anozzer window ‘foppruhtoonity openz.”

Great. I’ve apparently lost the opportunity to drive my truck, enter my own residence, or visit some of my most important friends but I’ve gained the opportunity to receive priceless wisdom from the High King of Mumbletown. I guess I should count my blessings. Where-oh-where is my giant pet pterodactyl when I need one. If something doesn’t swoop down and snatch this man up and fly away with him – or devour him – either way – I shall have to scream. I mean – I’m normally very patient and kind to those less fortunate or to those playing the role of the less fortunate for the purpose of financial gain. But today I’m so very not in the mood.

Nothing else he says can be interpreted. I nod occasionally, accept my drink when it comes, nod some more and then, at a convenient break in his nattering, announce, “Well, it’s been nice chatting with you. So long, then!” I reach out to shake his hand. He looks down at it, wide-eyed. Then, over his shoulder, I see the face of an angel. It is the man who sat next to me in the barber shop twenty minutes earlier. He’s wearing a puffy blue coat and holding a black one in his hands. I walk away from Mumble King and accept my coat. The gentleman falls all over himself apologizing. I assure him repeatedly that all is well and “Thanks for returning it so quickly… No, no. I already have a coffee but thanks anyway… No really. It’s quite alright. It’ll give me something to blog about… Nothing. Nothing. It’s an internet thing. Never mind. Have a good day.”

I know. I know. I should consider getting a spare set of keys copied. I know.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Poetry: Leaving the Cage

He was born
With a beating heart
And limited time
With rare and fabulous attributes
Eyes with which to absorb the light of the world
Ears with which to absorb the symphonies of sound
Senses with which to meld with all other things
And a mind with which to make order of it all
With the capacity for pleasure
Or for pain
Or for rage
Or for terror

He was born into captivity
A household; a society
A great sphere of imaginary borders
Made real by mass subscription
A society of rules to which he’s demanded accountable

No one asked him if he wished to come out and play
But they’ve allowed no choice, no space for him unregulated
No place for freedom

Not in a world of arrogant pride
Of armies and slavery and systematic training
Of concentration camps and mushroom clouds
And ideas of grand design
And promises of immortality
Not in a world of pretending

He learned to crawl on four limbs
And then to walk on two
He ate his meat and drank his milk
And grew up strong
Among endless voices unordered
And as trained he pretended to make order of it all

Only when he dared to stop pretending, did he discover
The mind’s capacity for joy


And with it peace
And with it freedom
And with it pity

Joy known to so very few
Though it sits awaiting all

And he grew stronger still

They are born
With beating hearts
And limited time
With rare and fabulous attributes
Eyes with which to absorb the light of the world
Ears with which to absorb the symphonies of sound
Senses with which to meld with all other things
And the minds with which to interpret it all
With the capacity for pleasure
And for pain
And for rage
And for terror

They are born into captivity
In pens; in barns; in factories
Windowless walls; solid cages; cold steel

No one asks them if they wish to come out and sacrifice
For them there is no freedom

Not in a world of selfish interest
Of fire branding and severed limbs
Of electric prods and bolt guns
Of slit throats and mechanical houses of horror
And blood-red Japanese shores
And blood-red Canadian snow
Not in a world of domination and cruelty

They learn to walk on four limbs
And then are forbidden to walk

What’s so grand about such a design, he cries
What does it matter that my teeth are sharp
What does it matter these ideas of eco chains
What does it matter would they exist if but for us
When there is no joy in cruelty
When there is no joy in pain
When there is no joy in terror

But when there is joy in kindness
When there is joy in mercy
When there is joy in loving
Joy known to the very few
Though it sits awaiting all

He put aside his meat and put aside his milk

What a joyful place
A place of freedom
Where the strong may pity the weak
And love the vulnerable*

* “We enter as lords of the earth bearing strange powers of terror and mercy alike. But human beings should love animals as the knowing love the innocent; as the strong love the vulnerable.” - Joaquin Phoenix, film: Earthlings (largely, if not wholly, taken from Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy by Matthew Scully). Photo yanked from

Monday, February 04, 2008


I’m normally very appreciative of the very competent defenses you see in the NFL but not so much at Superbowl time. I found the game a bit of a snoozer.

I was delighted with the ending though. Was rooting for the Patsies to lose. We hates them, don’t we, Smeagol? Yes. We hates them. A perfect season equals nineteen wins and a superbowl. Eighteen wins and a superbowl loss? Nice. But not perfect. Bully for trying.

I’m very happy for Mr. and Mrs. Manning who must be thrilled to have their son and daughter both win superbowls and MVP’s in consecutive years!

Although I don’t think they should have even awarded the MVP this year. I didn’t think any player stood out. Maybe they should have given it to the chief groundskeeper. He did an excellent job with the field. I know because I could inspect every individual blade of grass on Uncle Joel’s 70-something-inch high-def TV screen. I could even see how clean or dirty the receivers’ fingernails were as balls sailed by them uncaught. And you could even tell when Tom Brady farted. You could pick up subtle disturbances in the air behind him and on pause mode you could even see the tiny poo molecules.

Or they could have given the MVP to half-time hero Tom Petty who managed to croak out the oldies while simultaneously spooking out the front row fans with his new Saruman look. Very nice.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Day 86

The evil trinity of malevolent interlopers remains and has given no clues to its purpose. I summoned the courage to lift it off the floor to vacuum beneath it. It remained docile, allowing me to do this. Then it hit me - the danger I'd put myself in. I curled up in the corner and trembled like a leaf.

On the subject of clutter at the Grotto of Cool and my own passive-aggressive endeavors to battle it (I assume Steve-o checks this blog as he knows I occasionally quote him here), I've started attaching "CHRISTMAS IS OVER" tags to various Christmassy layabouts.

The trophy, by the way, is Steve-o's beer-drinking trophy. He consumed 24 beers in six hours and lived. It's the major part of his contribution to the living room decor. He contributed that, a kleenex box, four houseplants, the hi-fi gear and a small mountain of video game controllers.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Novel: The Alchemist

(1988) Paulo Coelho

This book is labeled ‘a fable about following your dream’. It seems fables are not intended to be subtle. This story is strictly told, not experienced. It reads much like biblical scripture. And in fact the content is often biblical in nature – concerning God and souls and such.
A young shepherd, Santiago, has a dream and then encounters omens directing him to follow his dream. The journey is a fascinating one filled with arcane mysticism and life lessons.

Key are such concepts as the Soul of the World and the Universal Language.

I must assume that Coelho has more on his agenda then the spinning of a tall tale for the sake of a story (though I can’t rule it out). And I must assume that he doesn’t actually believe in the mystical explanations he gives for everything – at least not at face value. The alchemic formula preached here collapses utterly in the light of reality. However – the actual advice, according to my living experience, does hold up. Furthermore we can treat the story metaphorically, substituting the philosopher’s stone for matter; the elixir of life for cellular organization; God for enlightenment; fate and destiny for cause-and-effect and natural justice and so on and so on. And in doing so the allegory works for me.

But allegories are slippery and devious. For all I know Coelho may have intended an allegory that mirrors separate concepts entirely. And another reader might map it to something different yet again.

Regardless, to me it begs the question, Why does an author choose allegory? I know why I would. I would do it to trick the reader into accepting my opinion on an issue by mapping all of its elements to a different issue on which I’d base the story. There the enlightened opinion would be obvious and would map favorably back to the original (covert) issue. Though I’ve been tempted, I’ve never yet done this. It strikes me as devious.

It so happens I’m currently working on a relatively short novel that is all about life lessons and finding peace etcetera. But I was never tempted to filter my story through a mask of spirituality or mysticism as I’ve witnessed respectively in The Five People You Meet in Heaven and The Alchemist.

So let’s assume for the moment that The Alchemist’s formula is allegorically based on Coelho’s authentic wisdom. Why does he choose allegory rather than spit out the real deal?

Is it that the real deal doesn’t make for compelling story material?

Or is the real deal simply too much for the average reader who isn’t inclined toward the intellectual tenacity required to work through it all? Is it thus too much for the average person to access? And rather than have them despair in their failure to understand, we masquerade realities in the robes of gods or wizards or alchemists or such and in the light of the supernatural it’s okay to not understand? So the dull masses can accept the guidance that concerns the ruling forces of their lives without stumbling through all the fine print? Because gods and stars and such cannot be questioned. You simply subscribe and obey. Faith and trust. Easy peasy.

Is that the purpose of priests and poets? To paint over our stark cold realities with shades palatable and incomprehensible so that everyone else can concentrate on keeping the big machine running and not be distracted?

I’m not saying that’s how it is. I’m just throwing out the question.

I recommend the book by the way. Another quick, easy, compelling read.

Some marvelous quotes:

We are afraid of losing what we have, whether it’s our life or our possessions and property. But this fear evaporates when we understand that our life stories and the history of the world were written by the same hand.

I would add reputation to that list, as well as the human connections we addict ourselves to. Here’s another:

So that [only] those who have the responsibility for understanding can understand. Imagine if everyone went around transforming lead into gold. Gold would lose its value.

My favorite:

When you possess great treasures within you, and try to tell others of them, seldom are you believed.