The Philosopher Red Stimulates my Reptilian Core

達磨 Dharma-Zen Painting-

達磨 Dharma-Zen Painting- (Photo credit: hira3)

Great…I finally get home, and I have had to make a strategic move back to the Ghost Hotel.  I’ve heard rumors of three gringos in town, very white-toned skin, wearing dark blue pants, serious expressions, and asking questions – which is bad form in a community of refugees from the “real” world – too many with too much to lose from answering questions.  Then, there’s that terrifying AA of American Airlines on the patch sewed onto the breast of the trio’s equally dark blue jackets.  I think this has something to do with my outburst in O’Hare after being delayed three times, missing a connection, and being re-routed to Chicago where thunderstorms had us grounded for three hours.  Look…I really had nothing to do with the disappearance of that snaggly woman at the Missed Flights/Distressed Passenger counter.

Any Way…I thought I could sit this out in peace here with the Philosopher Red at the Ghost Hotel, but he wasn’t around, only a dozen or so empty Impeial beer bottles and a messy pile of clippings from magazines to even suggest he had been here in the last month or so since I’ve been gone.  The clippings of word combinations were a bit disturbing, since I lean toward gallows humor and conspiracy theories.  Here’s what I found:

Sometimes, coming home can be a battle in itself.

TE ESPARA (you wait, in Spanish)

Black Magic


Stay Comfortable, Stay Connected

No more business as usual

Donde estan los ninos?  (Where are your children, in Spanish)

Robotic revolution

Heroes among us

Prefiere sus reuniones cara a cara a las 7:30 (you want to meet face-to-face at 7:30, in Spanish) with the “7” inked out, and a “9” scribbled above it.

Brilliance.  Proximity.  It’s all Here


A Costa Rica Wilson

While sifting through this debris I noticed a few marks on the fence Red and I put up to discourage any outside examination of our life in the Ghost Hotel.

Lifting a candle up to the marks I found this.  Wilson…  Yes, Wilson in Costa Rica.

I was getting the fear.

The more optimistic types – those who don’t know the history of the Philosopher Red – might take these clippings for an exercise in found poetry…the image for an innocent blot left after a day of painting – but I do know his history.

Now, I’m not sure about anything any longer, but the purpose for these clippings, and the paint blot?

I’ve  watched enough television cop shows to know the beginning of a ransom note, or a warning to the Rude Red Dude’s perceived enemies when I see one.


pilsen girl

pilsen girl (Photo credit: w rollins)

A young surf bum on a stool at a beach club bar (or, an apparently young surf bum) with an Australian  accent, leaned into me and whispered, “They hijacked an Imperial truck two days ago,” to me while I was yelling – I mean asking – the local Pilsen Girl why the only cold beer they had was Pilsen.

Imperial is the “Beer of Costa Rica” as the advertising says.

Just then the local miriachi band started playing Hotel California for the 137th time since I’ve been here, but there were no tourists paying them, and the singer was  staring directly at me.  The rest of the musicians were looking at their instruments, the ground, the palm trees, anywhere but at me.  Something in that Reptilian core of my brain began to itch…the fight or flight center which has always served me well.

The Aussie beach bum slipped me a local magazine called The Howler, opened it to the editor’s page, and said, “I’d read this if I were you.”  He left immediately, without finishing his Pilsen.  I did too.

It seems that some researchers have been snooping around, trying to connect the way children learn language with the way baby birds learn to make bird calls.  One of their bodies was found in the estuary of Las Baulus National Park, the favorite dumping ground for Nicaraguan and Columbian – I’ve got to go.  I’ll explain later, when I can…if I can.


Philosopher Red Proposes War on Mississippi, Elvis, and Blogistan

達磨 Dharma-Zen Painting-

達磨 Dharma-Zen Painting- (Photo credit: hira3)

So I wake up on the cold, unforgiving concrete floor of the Ghost Hotel this morning, again, to a scream of rage, again.  The Philosopher Red was shaking me violently, the gargling, guttural sounds of a gut-shot animal rising in his throat.

“Have you seen this,” he said…way too loud for my throbbing head.  He helped me up off the floor and forced me over to my laptop computer.  He pointed at the screen.  “Read that !”

I read what was on the screen.  It was a page with a story I had pulled up the night before, not expecting the Philosopher Red to be searching through my search history, or even be interested in the news of the day.  The story was about the ricin-laced letters some nut job from Mississippi had sent President Barack Obama, some senator named Wycker, from somewhere, and a Justice Court judge in Mississippi.  A copy of the letters was prominently displayed.

No one wanted to listen to me before.

There are still ‘Missing Pieces’

Maybe I have your attention now

Even if that means someone must die

This must stop.

To see a wrong and not expose it,

Is to become a silent partner to its continuance

I am KC and I approve this message.

“What kind of people are we if we let these kinds of attacks go unanswered?” Red raged.  “We got to teach these terrorists a lesson – blow them all to hell,” he said, slamming one fisted hand into the palm of another.

“Like that’s going to scare him,” I said, looking to see if Red had left me any coffee in the pot, “The guy’s from Mississippi.”

“I’d say a couple of drone strikes would do them some good,” Red growled.  “And if a couple of surgical strikes don’t straighten them up, we’ll send in the Marines…or the Navy SEALS…then blow them all to hell…hell, I tell you…HELL !”

The Philosopher Red was working himself into a self-righteous rage, which is never very pretty.  I tried to calm him.  I told him that the letter-sender was a nut job, an Elvis impersonator.

09 TN State Fair #174: Elvis Impersonator

09 TN State Fair #174: Elvis Impersonator (Photo credit: (aka Brent))

“Another Elvis follower,” Red said.  “The last Elvis impersonator I saw looked like Saddam Hussein.  We got to start taking these kind of troublemakers out.  How do these people spread this crap around,” he nearly screamed, pointing at the computer screen.  I told him the suspect, a Kevin Curtis, was a blogger…a frustrated writer.

“A what?  A Blogger?  Who let’s these people in our country?” Red raged.  “We ought to send his ass back to Blogistan where he belongs.  Don’t these damn A-rabs get CNN in Blogistan…just what about Shock and Awe don’t they understand?  They just don’t get it ’til they’re swinging from the end of a rope.”

His outraged threats echoed through the empty concrete chambers and hallways of the Ghost Hotel.

“You could have left me some coffee,” I said, tossing some grounds into the pot…cowboy coffee again.  This was starting to seem like one of those Philosopher Red type of days.


The Philosopher Red Consoles Pluto

達磨 Dharma-Zen Painting-

達磨 Dharma-Zen Painting- (Photo credit: hira3)

If there’s one thing that really gets under my skin it’s a whiney, petty god that sits around bitching all the time.  There are enough of them already.  The Philosopher Red knows this, but I come home to the Ghost Hotel last night and he’s got Pluto, the Roman god of the Underworld, and his snippy, primp of a wife Persephone, and another woman, out on the balcony chowing down on his psychedelic Black Ant Dip and sipping cocktails.  They were deep in conversation when I passed them, and oblivious of me.

“My planet,” Pluto said.  “How could they down-grade my planet, re-class it to dwarf status?  It’s a number now – 1343…something, something, Pluto.”

“They got a lot of nerve,” Persephone added.  “And now humans are sending some satellite called New Horizons to stick their noses where they don’t belong.  We’ve got workers there right now, cleaning up the place…landscaping…re-paving the road to Hades…and -”

“They’re going to have a time of it,” Pluto said.  “Cerberus is friendly when we get visitors, wagging his tail…but when anybody tries to leave the land of the dead, he turns as vicious as…he’ll devour them.  They should have read the small print.”

“That’s all he ever talks about…him and his three-headed dog,” the female voice said.  “Does he do anything when humans hold contests to name our moons?  And then one of your new gods, a William Shatner, wins, naming one of our moons Vulcan, after a pet of his, Spock or something…if we needed his help naming our moons we would have asked for it.”

“I guess you have to expect that sort of thing,” The Philosopher Red said, then a sigh.  “When you dwell in the dark, when you fear no mortal, when all succumb as they transform in states of agony…despair…having violated universal law.  I can sympathize with Shatner’s drive to name some small part of the fearsome mystery, to go where no man has – blah, blah, blah.”

“It’s not all that bad,” Pluto replied, defensively.  “The UnderWorld is not “hot as Hades” like the hell depicted by Christian tradition.  It’s a pastoral landscape, I think.  There are rivers – one, the River Lethe, or “Oblivion” – alongside which the most recent life can be forgotten.  The Elysian Fields, or the Fields of Asphodel…who could ask for better?”

“And New Horizons…all the remodeling…” The Philosopher Red said.  “I wonder if NASA knows who they’re getting into?”

“When have humans known what they’re getting into?”…a female voice said, an older-sounding voice…regal, almost.  “My Pluto has had so many names…Clymenus, notorious, The Hospitable One, Plydegmon, the Receiver of Many Guests, Plouton, the Rich One, and humans were afraid to invoke his real name.  Now they call his Kingdom a dwarf planet, and they -”

“I guess they’ll find out what they’ve done…down-sizing you to dwarf status,” the Philosopher Red said.  “They’ll be begging for mercy at your gates.  They’ll be -”

“It’s not like that,” Pluto said.  “Just ask Venetia here.”

Venetia?  I got up and walked to the doorway leading to the balcony.  Persephone was slumped back in a chair…eyes glazed over, another victim of The Philosopher Red’s psychedelic Black Ant Dip and probably too much alcohol.  An elderly woman with poor-fitting spectacles was sitting between Pluto and the Philosopher Red.  She was spectral…a ghost.

“Venetia?” the Philosopher Red said, echoing my inner question.

“The wonderful Venetia,” Pluto said with a grand sweep of his open hand, indicating the woman.


Pluto in rotation. Gif-animation

Pluto in rotation. Gif-animation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“I had some respect…even then, at age eleven, I knew the weight of actions and the importance of names,” the spectral old woman said.  “I lived near Oxford, England, and was eating breakfast with my grandfather in the spring of 1930 when I heard about this new planet.  Astronomers were arguing over names.  I suggested the name Pluto, in honor of this great man,” she said, nodding her head towards Pluto.  “My grandfather had a friend, an astronomy professor who was part of the team trying to rig up a cosmic map.  They took my suggestion of Pluto and adopted it unanimously…first vote…unanimously !”

“And now look at what these heathens have done,” The Philosopher Red said.  “Another part of my childhood taken from me…no more nine planets…no more cute little Pluto…now just a number assigned to a so-called ice ball.”  He shook his head and swirled his cocktail. “I know my faith in science is not what it used to be…if you can’t count on your favorite planet, what can you count on?”


Persephone woke out of her intoxicated funk.  “And all the remodeling.  Do you know what’s it’s costing us to clean the Underworld up before that imbecilic space mission gets there and starts taking pictures?  Plenty, let me tell you…” She sagged back into the sagging material of her chair.  “Plenteeeee…we’re here to turn Venetia loose on them again.  I sense some earthly down-sizing in the futue of some of these so-called Astronomers.”




Dharma-Zen painting…red cloak          Dharma-Zen painting   red cloak            Dharma-Zen painting   red cloak

Abraham Lincoln: Advice from the Ghost Hotel

So, here I am, crashed out in the Ghost Hotel, the empty shell of some developer’s dream, and the walls are beginning to glow whiter…the straight edges of doorways and windows are starting to waver like sinuous dancers.  I should never let the Philosopher Red cook…or at least, eat what he cooks.  I go to the concrete chunk and wood scrap pile we call the kitchen and look at the recipe he used.

1 bunch of spinach, chopped

1 1/2 cup sour cream

1 cup mayonnaise

1 package vegetable soup mix

3 green onions, chopped

1 cup roasted chapulin (or other insects)

Squeeze spinach until dry.  Combine ingredients.  Refrigerate two hours.  Serve in hollowed bread.  Scoop using crackers of vegetables.

Now, Chapulin is a Spanish slang word for grasshopper, or a young thief or troublemaker.  A bag lying on the counter has a few of the large black ants which The Philosopher Red has discovered cause a slightly hallucinatory effect when dried and eaten.  He becomes a troublemaker when so intoxicated…I regress into my self – past the area where the Rude Red Dude rules.  A Chapulin, indeed.

A Lincoln penny on ground

I walk out onto our rubble of a patio, and find, of all things, an American penny.  The wind sounds like the hum of an audience waiting to be entertained.  “A much better image had he, before the weight of wisdom and responsibility brought him to un-sightly ends,” I pronounce in the best tragedian voice I can muster.  I would have flopped in Shakespeare’s Globe.  The wind seems like muffled applause.  These ants do the job.  Note to self: never eat anything The Philosopher Red –

“My father taught me to work, but not to love it,” came a deep-chested voice, world-weary and monotone.  “I never did like to work, and I don’t deny it. I’d rather read, tell stories, crack jokes, talk, laugh — anything but work.”

“A talking penny,” I mumbled.  This was beginning to take on a religious feel…projecting words on to idols, although the smallest American idol – but one any Televangelist would worship.

“Don’t criticize them; they are just what we would be under similar circumstances,” the voice replied.

“But they all look so good while doing so much disservice to their faithful,” I said, feeling a bit silly talking to a penny, but so alone in the Ghost Hotel it didn’t matter.  And look at Lincoln’s image…not the skeletal mug of his photos during the war years, but the grand features of a born entertainer, a teller of stories, maybe.

“When a young man in Illinois I was riding through a wood and met a woman, also on horseback, who stopped and said; ‘Well for land sake you are the homeliest man I ever saw.’ ‘Yes, madam, but I can’t help it,’ I replied.  ‘No, I suppose not,’ she observed, ‘but you could stay at home.'”  The Lincoln voice sounded playful.

“Might have been a good idea, in your case,” I said to the image on the penny.  “Too late to learn from history though, or advice from friends.”

“All I have learned, I learned from books,” the voice answered.  “My best friend is a person who will give me a book I have not read.”

“Well, you know,” I started, thinking I might as well play along with my distorted senses.  “America hasn’t not done so well since people like you…last president raised in the Age of Reason, left before telling us how to clean the mess up.”

“This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it.  Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their Constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember it or overthrow it…”

Now this fantastic voice seemed to be rising to the occasion…a little bit of good old stump oratory…some frontier wisdom.  I sat down.  The effects of eating these black ants might last a while.

“…America will never be destroyed from the outside.  If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

“I hope you wrote some of this down,” I said, flipping the penny aimlessly. “This common little copper disc reminds me of common people.  They serve a purpose for a while, but in the end   they’re expendable.”

“The Lord prefers common-looking people.  That is why he made so many of them,” the voice said, a light-hearted air starting to become apparent.  “And writing, the art of communicating thoughts to the mind through the eye, is the great invention of  this world…enabling us to converse with the dead, the absent, and the unborn, at all distances of time and space.”

English: John Wilkes Booth.

English: John Wilkes Booth. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Plain and not honest is too harsh a style,” a new voice echoed through the concrete walls of the Ghost Hotel.  I looked at a darkened corner where it seemed to have originated from, then back at the penny now lying head up in my palm.  I must have looked a bit baffled.

“That is the corner where presidential assassins seem to congregate,” the Lincoln voice said.  “That Booth – always quoting from Shakespeare…Richard the third.  A beast of a man when ignored.”

“No beast so fierce but knows some touch of pity.  But I know none, and therefore am no beast,” the assassin’s voice rang out.  A voice trained for the theater…projection.  Looking into the corner I see the spectral shapes of several people.  I look to the penny.

“John Wilkes Booth…but I suppose you knew that,” the Lincoln voice said.  “And…Giteau, Czolgosz, Oswald – claims to fame, presidential assassins.”

“Sin, death, and hell have set their marks on him, and all their ministers attend him,” Booth’s voice boomed.

There were more than four spectral bodies in the corner.  A female voice began muttering, as if talking to herself:

“Am I sorry I tried?  Yes, and no.  Yes, because it accomplished little except to throw away the rest of my life.  And, no, I’m not sorry I tried, because at the time it seemed a correct expression of my anger…my thoughts of -”

I looked to the penny for an explanation.

Sandra Good, and her cohort Squeaky Fromme,” the Lincoln voice said.  “I hear they tried to assassinate a President Ford, and the joke around here is that he was stumbling down stairs and slipping on wet streets so often he was more of a danger to himself than these attempted assassins were…the management allows their failed company to mix with the successful, for reasons – ”

“Dispute not with her: she is a lunatic,” chimed the Booth voice.  Does he know anything except lines from Shakespeare?

I could hear a squeaky voice arguing with the surer voice of Sandra Good.  “Chapman, shut up…” they said in unison.

“This has to be harder on you than hallucinating on black ants,” I said to Lincoln’s profile on the penny.

“When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on,” it replied.

“Good advice,” I said, looking in at The Philosopher Red rifling through my shirt pockets…probably looking for more ant money, “Very good advice.”


The Philosopher Red…Employed?

達磨 Dharma-Zen Painting-

達磨 Dharma-Zen Painting- (Photo credit: hira3)

So, on my way back to the Ghost Hotel this morning I met two tourists, I think…I hope they were passing through.  They were both whiter than the average tourist, and wearing black, which must have been murder in this heat.  Young wizards, I thought.  Just what this town needs.  They handed me a flyer advertising a spiritual retreat, and there, among several small pictures along the bottom…was a equally small picture of  the Philosopher Red with the title staff following his name.

He was in the Ghost Hotel, splayed out on my bed, when I entered our cavernous flop.

“Tell me you didn’t get a job at this joint…” I said, letting the flyer drop onto the bed next to him.  I was imagining the hubble-bubble toil and trouble being brewed up for me.

“Custodial staff, for now,” he said, ignoring the flyer, “but they have an adjunct medium position opening up in a month.”  He handed me a full-color, glossy brochure from a stack on the floor next to my candle.

I was right…trouble.  El Rancho de Los Milagros, right there on top.  It means something like Miracle Ranch in English.  Maxie Kahn’s wife, Miss Shari, runs the place.  Miss Shari and the El Rancho had both earned “colorful” reputations among locals, and in a small town, “colorful” is not always a good way to be thought of or described.  What comes to mind?

The first thing I noticed on the brochure was the photo of Maxie and Miss Shari, arms awkwardly intertwined, standing before a condo along the El Rancho de Los Milagros golf course.  Opening the flaps of the brochure…advertisement…advertisement and advertisements, mostly for somewhat related businesses…mostly known Kahn-owned operations.  There was a section for first-time visitors, listing gate fees based upon daily, weekly, and seasonal rates – parking included.  How magnanimous. Home and condominium prices were also listed, providing a buyer was approved by a board of directors, whoever they were, and became a member of the El Rancho de Los Milagros Assembly, whatever that entailed.  It didn’t sound like a healthy mix to me, but what could I –

El Rancho Rides Again!

El Rancho Rides Again! (Photo credit: Miss Shari)

“El Rancho de Los Milagros is the oldest community of spiritualists in Cost Rica,” Red began reading from another brochure.  “It’s a community of like-minded believers connected by the premise that the human soul has a continuous existence.  Our licensed and bonded spiritualists share a common belief  that it is possible to communicate, aided by their mediation and guidance, with the spirits of those who have passed from the physical world into the next.  They also offer property management seminars…” the Philosopher Red added, as if such an attraction would concern me…a guy who squats in a Ghost Hotel.

“I even signed you up for part-time and on-call work,” the Philosopher Red went on.  “I’ve vouched for you, said you’d…strive to provide an encouraging atmosphere for mediums and guests to talk about and experience the process of spirit communication.”

He was reading straight off a brochure, and the veins in the temples of my head were beginning to throb.

“It’s going to be great,” he said, oblivious to me rubbing my clenched fists into my eye sockets.  “It’ll be regular work…they’ve promised me staff openings at the Healing Creek, the Inspiration Stump, and the Waves of Woe Grieving Cove.”

“We’re screwed,” I said, looking further into the text of the brochure.   The special events planned by the Medium League of Los Milagros were notorious around Tamarindo…something to be avoided.  Sometimes they had Bingo, other times, karaoke, and –

“Forty dollars,” I said, pointing at the bottom of the brochure where “suggested donations” were listed for specific services, events, and souvenier spoons available to members and non-members, residents and aliens. “Someone’s going to give you forty dollars an hour to commune with them on the Inspiration Stump…or wail with them at the Waves of Woe Grieving Cove?”

The Philosopher Red was saying something to me, but I was reading, and re-reading, the final line…the one with the asterisk…the discaimer…

*Price and quality are not necessarily related.

“They’ve also got their own police force and volunteer fire department,” the Rude Red Dude was saying, as if some sense of safety were an issue.

This set me to thinking about how a psychic police force would work,,,a police department with nothing but psychics and seers and prognosticators.  I thought about squads of police rushing to the anticipated scene of a crime…cornering…beating…cuffing a perpetrator, before the crime was even committed.  A psychic court?  Does anyone need show up?  A psychic jail?  Hmmm…

This led to the consideration of how a volunteer psychic fire department would operate.  Did they need to be called if there were a fire?  Were they allowed to stop a fire before it started?  Or, did they have to wait, with hoses and tools at the ready, for the fire to start?  This could be amusing for a while…and, it had been a while since the Philosopher Red had prophesied anything, at least from what I remember.  He has been through some changes since he was last expected to do anything esoteric or cosmic, or even responsible.

Some days…I just feel like a guy about to be…

Señor de los Milagros

Señor de los Milagros (Photo credit: chosicarelax)

The Philosopher Red Takes on a Sufi Ghost

達磨 Dharma-Zen Painting-

達磨 Dharma-Zen Painting- (Photo credit: hira3)

The Philosopher Red was up early this morning and out looking for work.  Good for him.  I went out all day taking pictures, keeping up with the local happenings with Big Wave Billy as he gave lessons to  two Slovakians without an ounce of balance between them.  I’ve never seen two people so defeated…at odds with their bodies, and I felt they could be me, or I could be they…although wonderous happenings were in the works.  I just didn’t know it until later that night.

I heard the Philosopher Red come in.  He was talking in a severe way with himself, and he’s not a person to be interrupted when he’s arguing with himself.  He made a hell of a noise, the clinking of glass, the popping of the cork, a distinct gurgling, and then all was silent.Soon he was talking to himself again, but this time his voice seemed to change from his usual growling complaints to a slow, melodic drone, followed by his raspy and world-weary voice.


I crept over to the doorway separating our living spaces to hear more clearly.  If he was going to go over the edge again, I wanted to be one step ahead of the Rude Red Dude.  He was complaining about the image he had created around Tamarindo, and how he would never be able to find a job, and how dangerous he felt it was squatting in the Ghost Hotel.  A deep, calm and dignified voice replied:


“Forget safety.  Live where you fear to live.  Destroy your reputation.  Be notorious.”


“Easy for you to say,” I heard Red reply.  “Living out here on the edge of nothingness is driving me nuts.”


“I have lived on the lip of insanity, wanting to know reasons, knocking on the door,” the deep, calm voice replied, “It opens.  I’ve been knocking from the inside.”


“But I hear things…you’re just some guy from a book,” the Philosopher Red whined, “I’m talking about my reputation here.”


“Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others,” the calm voice replied.  “Unfold your own myths.”


“Stooooooop,” Red said, raising his voice until it echoed through the empty concrete caverns of the Ghost Hotel.


“Raise your words, not voice.  It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.”


“Whoooa,” the Philosopher Red taunted.  I heard the distinctive pop of a cork from a wine bottle.  “I thought you were going into some god thing, bringing in reinforcements, or something.”


“Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”


“Sure, easy for you to say…you’re a fragment of my imagination.”


“Sit, be still, and listen, because you’re drunk and we’re at the edge of the roof.”


I looked through the door.  All I could see was the red-robed back of the Philosopher Red sitting on an unfinished ledge of a concrete balcony.  He held a wine bottle in one hand, and an open book with an ornate, oriental design in the other.  I considered trying to pull him in to safety.

Jalal ad-Din Rumi gathers Sufi mystics.

Jalal ad-Din Rumi gathers Sufi mystics. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Either give me more wine or leave me alone,” the calm, resonate voice said.

There was no other person in the room.

The Philosopher Red took his bottle of wine and poured a small stream of the red liquid on the open pages.

“There, what’s your god have to say about that?”

“Knock, and He’ll open the door…Vanish, And He’ll make you shine like the sun…Fall, And He’ll raise you to the heavens…Become nothing, And He’ll turn you into everything.”

“Sounds wonderful,” the Rude Red Dude said, then taking a long draw off his wine bottle.  “This is all…”

“But listen to me.  For one moment quit being sad.  Hear blessings dropping their blossoms around you.”

The Philosopher Red took another drink off his wine bottle, then poured a good draught over the pages of the book he was holding open, and turned the page.

“Don’t you have some place to be?” Red asked…a sarcastic tone.  “Some other souls to save?”

“My soul is from  elsewhere, I’m sure of that,” the resonant voice answered, “And I intend to end up there.”

“Yeah,” Red said.  “Everybody’s got something to hide except me and my monkey,” he sang, not sounding a bit like Paul McCartney.

“Be like melting snow – wash yourself of yourself,” the calm, deep voice said, assuring.

“…like melting snow…wash myself of yourself…”  The Philosopher Red slurred, putting the book down on the ledge of the balcony and taking a long drink, finishing the wine bottle. “I’m either going to throw up, or pass out…it’s a toss-up.”

“The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you,” a disemboweled, resonant voice intoned.  “Don’t go back to sleep.”

I watched as The Philosopher Red slid clumsily from the balcony, lie down on my bed, and roll over on his back.

“The breeze has secrets to tell me,” he slurred.  “I can’t go…to…slee…”

And he was out cold.

I picked the book up and looked it over.  A poetry book…the name on the cover –  Jalaladdin Rumi.

I slept the light sleep of a dancer that night…spinning, white-clad whirling dervishes twirling their way around and around the stage floor of my dim dream



The Philosopher Red: A Popeless Night in the Ghost Hotel

達磨 Dharma-Zen Painting-

達磨 Dharma-Zen Painting- (Photo credit: hira3)

Another night banished to the Ghost Hotel, hiding out from Maxie Kahn.

I’ve liberated electrical service from the bed and breakfast next door, and The Philosopher Red lies around all day watching television while I try to hustle us up a new place to live. I have inquired about the Rude Red Dude’s new listless lifestyle, which is very similar to his former listless lifestyle, but even more so.

Without taking his eyes off the television, he replies:”There’s a new Popelessness in the air, and I can’t seem to shake it.” As much as I prefer he get his red-robed rear end up and out of the Ghost Hotel, I decide that it’s better to be kind than right.

I take a walk to the local bookstore and find two films that might be appropriate for these trying times.  When I get back the Philosopher Red is wiping the salsa from his fingers onto my sheets.

I toss the DVDs on my bed for his consideration.

We Have a Pope (film)

We Have a Pope (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“How about “We Have a Pope.” I ask him.  “It’s an Italian comedy -”

“Appropriate, so far,” Red replies.

“…originally titled Habemus Papam, the Latin phrase used to announce the election of a new Pope.  Written by Nanni Moretti, directed by Nanni Moretti, and starring Nanni Moretti.”

“Sound wonderful,” the Rude Red Dude sighs, “Couldn’t get any one to join him in this work of genius?”

“Give it a chance,” I say.  “It’s about a Cardinal who is elected Pope against his wishes, and the therapist brought in by the Vatican to help him overcome his panic.  It played during the Cannes Film Festival in 2011,” I add, trying to instill some enthusiasm.

“Played where…Toledo…Des Moines…Caracas…the Vatican,” he says, followed by a snort.

“Jerzy Stuhr is in it too,” not knowing any Jerzy other than Kosinski, but hoping for the best.

“Euro-trash rejects,” the red-robed one replies.

I have to remember, The Philosopher Red is not a foreign film fan…he’s the only person I know who has fallen asleep watching Run Lola Run, and who could fall asleep watching that frenetic film?

My answer…I’m looking at him sprawled across my bed.

Cover of "The Pope of Greenwich Village"

Cover of The Pope of Greenwich Village

“How about an American film then,” I ask.  “I also got The Pope of Greenwich Village with Mickey Rourke, Eric Roberts, Daryl Hannah, Geraldine Page, and Burt Young.”

“This is what you bring me to assuage my Popelessness? And…”

“…and,” I go on, reading from the back of the DVD case, “Page won an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for a two scene role, and -”

“Fitting,” The Philosopher Red replies.  “Popes sightings are rare these days.”

“The movie centers around Paulie, a schemer who -”

“Not a documentary,” the Rude Red Dude whines.  “Wasn’t there already a Pope Paulie, or did I miss a decade or two?”

Pope John Paul II,” I tell him.

“Pope John Paulie II,” he says.  “Wasn’t he the bass player in Led Zeppelin, or something.  How about cutting the crap and nominating Keith Richard for Pope…I’ll get behind that campaign. Does the Pope have to be alive?”  I wonder what kind of smoke would be coming from the Vatican chimney if Keith was elected Pope.

“It wouldn’t seem like it, sometimes,” I say, considering the options that would open up.  “How about that guy Bentham you’re always going on about…or Thomas Hobbes…he had the answer – don’t feed the poor…no more poor.”

“How dare you bring Jeremy Bentham into this mess.  The King of Utilitarianism?  He wouldn’t keep such company…anything else?

“…a schemer,” I carry on, reading from the DVD cover, “who finds himself out of work…criminal activity…no way to support his pregnant girlfriend…expensive tastes but not much money…”

“Sounds like reality television to me,” Red says, “Snookie in this farce?  Snookie…the first Pope from New Jersey…I like that.”

The Philosopher Red gets up, takes the DVD out of my hand, picks up the other one, and throws them both out of the broken window.

“I think the season premiere of Dancing with the Stars is on tonight,” he says.  “I’m not missing that for this pap.”

I’m satisfied if The Philosopher Red is satisfied.

The Philosopher Red and the Value of a Dollar

達磨 Dharma-Zen Painting-

達磨 Dharma-Zen Painting- (Photo credit: hira3)

I had been considering The Philosopher Red’s absence from my life as a sort of vacation, but it has become a minor concern over the past few days.  There’s no telling what he could have gotten himself into, or, what kind of trouble he could be bringing to my doorstep.  Maria, La Negrita de los Muertos, and her band of so-called revolutionaries, Los Monos Locos, have taken over my apartment, and as far as I’m concerned, the Little Dark Lady of Death and The Crazy Monkeys can have it.  I have gotten my guitar, computer, flip-flops, t-shirts and books out, so no big loss.  The rent was due last week, I think…let them worry about that.

But The Rude Red Dude…he’s been with me for a long time, and one of my faults is loyalty, despite the distress or disruption it brings into my life. We could patch things up…maybe make some amends…or just duke it out in the street like a couple of drunken sailors on shore leave.  There’s no telling with him.  But, anyway, I won’t wax on about my problems and from whence they stem…they stem from me, I know.

A Walk SignSo, it was a bit of a relief to see his name on a handbill tacked to a telephone pole I passed on the way to the market this morning.  The handbill, just beneath another one announcing a performance of Aladdin at the amateur theatre, was promoting:

An Evening of Enlightened Release from the Mystical – The Tao of the Dollar

I found this a bit odd, considering Red’s chosen occupation as philosophical mystic.  And the handbill was of high quality, not some scrawl on the back of one of my manuscript pages, like I would expect from him.  A promise of professionalism.  Then I noticed where the Enlightened Release was to take place…a run-down restaurant operated by a family of Columbian refugees.  Everyone in town calls it “The Place With No Name” and…everyone also knows who owns it – Maxie Kahn, the largest gangster in Tamarindo.  A money-hungry thug financing a spiritual speech by a crazed monk?  Nothing surprises me around here.

Regardless of who was financing The Philosopher Red these days, I had to see if we could get our heads together, on the same page, to use an ugly cliché from Maxie’s vocabulary of deadly entrepreneurial opportunism.

So, I fluff and shake my cleanest t-shirt, buff the dust off my flip-flops, and set the clock on my microwave to make sure I’m aware of the time.  Once all is in order I take a siesta…this could be a rough night.

Marie F.U.S.S. III arrive at The Place With No Name early so as to get a prime seat.  My first surprise is finding Maria, La Negrita de los Muertos at the door taking “donations” and checking names against a list of about twenty VIPs.  I ask her about my apartment.  She asks me about a donation.  I ask her about her gang of revolutionaries, she tells me they’ve “found their peace in the jungle” and repeats her request for donations.  Being as she’s dressed in her best camouflage, and sporting an assault rifle, I find exactly the equivalent of one dollar in Costa Rican change.  She doesn’t seem pleased, but does give me a seat near the toilets, but downwind.  Small favors are appreciated, and I start telling her so when she bangs the butt of her rifle on my table and tells me to –

“Shut up, prole…the Great One is before us.”  She sits beside me, her rifle on the table.

And, there he is…hefting his Red way onto a makeshift stage in the center of the room.  Two of Maxie’s Columbian thugs sit off to the side.  Shiny brass bowls placed at the four corners of the stage emit coiling wisps of incense smoke that smell like….money?  No, not just money…Dirty Old Money.

“Thank you so much for joining me tonight,” Red begins, his voice a murmur.  “Let me remind every one of you in this room that each of us is full of energy.  Together we can change our worlds.  The first thing you must understand in order to utilize this energy is to understand that we are nothing…NO THING,” he says, modulating his voice like an evangelical preacher.  “You are temporal, mortal…a small black decimal point in a universal bottom line that defines the value of this life.  The second thing you must understand is that we exist in two systems of immortal accounting…either you are consonant with the universe as we know it, or you are dissonant…unacounted for.  How do you know which state you’re in?”  The Rude Red Dude stands up to his full height, shaking the wrinkles from his red robe, and smiles… “You just do.

“The modern world has given us a most detailed methodology of finding our place in it, a methodology which has been shattered in  hedonistic Tamarindo, and similar  shanty towns.  SHATTERED…FRAGMENTED…and, the results are bewilderment, estrangement.  This brush with nothingness…enumerated dispair, can only result in cynicism, empty gestures of defiance, anger, violence…you name it.  BUT – there is a way to get yourself on the right side of the ledger of life…MONEEEY,” he wailed, rubbing his thumbs and forefingers together.

“Dissonance is simply the lack of money…and the corollary…consanance, is the abundance of  money.”

I am in shock.  I can’t imagine what the past few days spent with Maxie Kahn have done to the fragile mind of The Philosopher Red, I need to…

“When we have money our pathways are lined with rose petals, our underwear smells lemony fresh, and we love everyone we meet, and wake to the sound of song birds…when we don’t have money we listen to heavy metal music, we smell like musty socks, have infrequent bowel movements, and awaken to sounds of alarm clocks.  The paradox of the rose-petaled path can only be solved by the Tao of the Dollar…to fully realize the multi-layered dividends offered unto you, you must enumerate the divine toll, then PAY !  The world offers an overflowing bounty of goods, services and status symbols to straighten out the most hopeless cases of uncapitalized constipation. Many are those that will lie to you…tell you that the good life is there for the taking – all you have to do is reach out and it will be handed to you.  No, my friends…that results in dissonance, penalties accruing on a descending scale of -”

I grab Maria by the collar, grab her assault rifle, force her head to the table, and point the barrel right between her eyes.

“Nobody move,” I shout, trying to sound like an actor in an action movie.

“Terminate,” Maxie Kahn says to the two thick-bodied thugs fronting the stage.  They both rise, bringing pistols out of the waistbands of their sweat-soaked leisure suits.

I let go of Maria and point the rifle toward Maxie’s prominent belly.  The Philosopher Red stands stiffly, eyes lizard-lidded.

Maxie lets out a heavy sigh.  “You’re forfeiting your admission fee, I hope you know.”

I move to the stage, grab The Philosopher Red by a baggy sleeve and pull him behind me, moving toward the door.  The Rude Red Dude pulls me to a stop, plucks a dollar from Maria’s pocket, and asks me exactly the question that’s been on my mind since I started this idiotic action:  “Do you think the busses are still running?”

I have so little experience with this sort of thing, but I’ll figure it out as I go along.

My Search for The Philosopher Red in Death Alley

達磨 Dharma-Zen Painting-

達磨 Dharma-Zen Painting- (Photo credit: hira3)

I can’t explain why I even care about The Philosopher Red any more.  All he’s done since he’s been here is cause problems for me, upset the locals, associate with known hoodlums like Maxie Kahn, and attempt to start a revolution.  I guess it’s one of those childhood attachments that we all make with some non-ordinary friend, the kind that complicates our lives, but we just can’t seem to shake loose from.  But, I’m getting to the point where I jus don’t care any longer about childhood attachments.  The rogue philosopher of revolution has got to go, and I’m going to tell him that today.

So, I come back to my apartment in the early hours of the evening, after he ruined my only afternoon to relax and do a little reading.  I’m ready for him.  He’s got to go.  I’m not going to let this slide.

Marie F.U.S.S. But, the first thing I see when I open my door is that crazy, gun-toting revolutionary leader of Feminists United to Suppress the Slaughter,Maria Isabel Chavez.  She’s changed her name from Marie to Maria…says it sounds too Bakersfield, as in California…where she was born and raised.  And now she’s insisting on being called Negrita de la Muertos – the Little Dark Lady of the Dead.  Says she wants to become a more “authentic” revolutionary…she wants her F.U.S.S. followers to have a leader with a Hispanic name, one they can trust.  I don’t know if I trust her, but I’m not going to argue with her…that’s for sure.  And I’m also not going to ask her why the Commandante of a revolutionary group dedicated to suppressing the slaughter would choose that name.  She appears to be taking her new image seriously.

And, if that wasn’t enough, she’s gathered together a small group of friends she calls her revolutionary army.  I think that they’re here just to watch my television.  They claim to be Los Monos Locos, or the Crazy Monkeys.  That is the name of a local dance club here.  I don’t think they’re true revolutionaries.


I ask Commandante Negrita de la Muertos where the Nicaraguan banana workers are…the ones The Philosopher Red brought back after his encounter with the Killer Figs of Costa Rica.  She doesn’t say a word.  She gestures at one of Los Monos Locos sitting at my table feasting away, and a drunken teenaged surf bum hands me one of my Japanese place mats, saying, “They were getting a bit chatty… asking too many questions…get my drift?”


I have no idea what to think of this.  I’m certainly not going to ask too many questions, that’s for sure.  But I do have one question for my little revolutionary lovely.  “Where’s The Philosopher Red?  We’ve got a few things we need to straighten out here.”

“He went down to Dengue Alley,” she said, lowering her assault rifle.  “Maybe you should go down there and let him straighten you out on the way things are going to be around here from now on.”

“Dengue Alley?”  It’s the worst back alley in town…in fact, it’s the only back alley in town.  Dengue Fever

“He’s there scouting out an action we’re planning,” she said, caressing the barrel of her weapon.

I make my escape, leaving the Little Dark Lady of the Dead and her Monos Locos to my apartment.  The Philosopher Red and I need to have a little showdown.  I hurry out the door and make my way to Dengue Alley.

Dengue Alley got its name a few years back when an outbreak of Dengue Fever swept through town.  For whatever reason, not one person in the dirty alley got the fever.  And, this is a place where suspicious-looking water forms reddish rivulets, even during the dry season.  I found the hidden entryway to the alley, and discovered a shop there had human torsos displayed in the window.

A Dengue Alley EntranceA Dengue Alley Torso Shop

I move down the blessed alley, finding no indication that The Philosopher Red had been there.  I even stopped at El Monasterio de los Addictos to ask the watchman if he had seen a crazed-looking monk in a red robe.  He said he hadn’t, and I moved on.

 A Dengue Alley arms

I carry on with my search for The Philosopher Red, and some idea of “…how things are going to be…” around my apartment.  I see a woman stealing some chairs from the back door of a restaurant, and call out to her for help.  She hurries off down the alley, yelling something in Spanish about those “…pinche Monos Locos…”  Then I see the Capuchin monkey doll, crucified on a fence post in the classic Christ death pose.  Most people would think things are getting a bit eerie here in Dengue Alley, but it’s such a beautiful day…how can anything go wrong with my search for The Philosopher Red and our impending showdown.

A Dengue Alley Muscle ShotA Dengue Alley monkey

Pagan symbols surrounded me…the tortured faces of demons with unrequited lusts…and a dousing pool for the devil children of the devil-worshipping priests, no doubt.  I was beginning to have serious doubts whether a professed coward like The Philosopher Red would ever venture down this alley of the damned…this trail of horrors called Dengue Alley.

Dengue Alley Face Dengue Alley Pool

I finally came to the end of my trail of terror, and not a clue as to where the red-robed maniac was lurking, if lurking he was.  I strolled out of Dengue Alley, into the dying sunlight of a tropical evening.  I decided that the only answer to my dilemma was to go to the beach, grab a book, a hammock, and a beer at El Pescador and enjoy the sunset.  It would give myself another day to find The Philosopher Red…and see just what the hell was going on back at my apartment with Commandante Negrita de la Muertos and Los Monos Locos.

A Dengue Alley ExitPooh Hamaca 2

Until tomorrow – Pura Vida everybody… sorry for the anti-climactic ending.  Tomorrow’s another day, as they say in the movies.

A Sun Silver Dog

The Philosopher Red Interrupts My Day with Mark Twain and Oscar Wilde

A Big Book Bus II

Catching a bus out of a Costa Rican beach town can be a trying experience.  No real schedule…as many people as I ask about the next bus is about how many different answers I will get.  One book just won’t do – I suggest taking two.  Feeling a slippage in my wit and wisdom meter the other day, I picked out The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain and The Wit and Wisdom of Oscar Wilde.  I think the text books for my self-taught course were wise choices.

I read when I’m walking…I read while I’m waiting for buses, horses, tides, and for the Philosopher Red to get out of his AA meeting.  Yes, the red-hooded one has finally realized that his insect eating habit has gotten out of control.  He has admitted he is powerless, and has decided to seek the help of a higher power.  Good for him…and really good for me.  Maybe meetings will help him identify a few other of the addictive problems he is overpowered by as well.

I thinks he’s feeling a little ashamed of himself.  He has told me that I should come along to meetings with him…that walking around reading two books at a time is an indication that I have a problem.  I don’t agree with that.  It’s a strategy I’ve developed over time, traveling or waiting or walking with two books, going back and forth between the two.  When the words and ideas begin to blend together they become a fuzzy blur…then they start to re-constitute in my imagination.  The wit and wisdom stay, but they start to come out my mouth in my own words, with little indication that I am standing on the shoulders of giants, two masters of biting, one-line social commentary.

A Book at PedroA bus did eventually come, and I hopped a ride down to Pedro’s Surf Shop, which is where the AA and NA meetings are held in this little sand box of a town, as The Philosopher Red likes to call my home for now.

So, I’m standing outside of the Pedro’s Surf Shop and Anonymous meeting complex, when an old friend, Maxie Khan, comes out of Pedro’s and tells me that the Anonymous group has invited The Philosopher Red to leave, and he’s obliged them with his absence.

I find this hard to believe, since my non-ordinary philosopher friend rarely obliges anyone, and usually breaks something if asked to leave anywhere.  Then Maxie tells me he’s here to fix a broken door, pick up some damaged furniture, and smooth things over with Pedro.  Maxie owns just about everything in this town.

Now I’m beginning to believe.

So, it’s off to find The Philosopher Red.  I might be able to calm him down enough to mitigate the damage he will inflict on my condo, if that’s where he’s headed.  Luckily, Maxie tells me that the insect addict was ranting about an ants’ nest he had seen on the way to the meeting, which gives me some relief…but how wild will he be once he gets a belly full of those ants?

I start up the road, skirting the horses of the cowboys still in the meeting.  Cowboys here  in Guanacaste work hard, they play hard, and they drink hard.  And they park their horses wherever they please.


A Big Book Horse


Hot, humid tropical countries are known for being laid back…for taking it easy…for going with the flow.  This is not how Maxie Kahn operates, and it’s certainly not how The Philosopher Red rolls.  I hope the two of them never get together, especially since the teenaged revolutionary Marie hijacked the red-robed philosopher’s revolution with her reincarnation of Feminists United to Suppress the Slaughter, or F.U.S.S., as they’re commonly referred to since last I reported on their activities.  People here are in fear…I can feel it in the air…I sensed it as I walked by the horses.  There seems to be no quarter or creature large or small that F.U.S.S. hasn’t thrown into a panic.  But I carry on, as I always do.  I figure if The Philosopher Red is down by the treeline rooting out a nest of ants, the easiest way to find him will be to sit down on a rock I know out by the tide line and wait…let him come to me.


A Big Book Beach Two

That’s the Mark Twain and Oscar Wilde effect kicking in…becoming wiser – wise enough to not go after the insect-eating maniac friend of mine.  And, hopefully I’ll be a little wittier when I do find him – witty enough to amuse him into not breaking up my condo, drinking and eating my refrigerator bare, or holding a F.U.S.S. action coordinating committee meeting on my porch while I’m trying to finish my books.  Good luck to me.

The giants whose shoulders I stand on are memorialized everywhere, in print, photographs, or statuary, or gravestone…

Cover of

達磨 Dharma-Zen Painting-

I’m beginning to feel the breath of mortality…and my red-hooded maniac of a friend is the cause of this, I think.  His views on determinism are not very encouraging.  And, if I know Maxie Kahn, like I think I do, I’ll end up in a piece of ground that he holds the title to.  And, if I know The Philosopher Red, like I know I do, he’ll be standing on more than my shoulders.  And he’ll be munching on one of his insect specialties, spitting the hard, crunchy parts all over the place, making my final resting place as much of a mess as he’s made of my condo.

I should probably take a personal inventory of my positive thought process…

Pura Vida, as they say around here.

The Philosopher Red: A Revolution Foiled by F.U.S.S.

達磨 Dharma-Zen Painting-

達磨 Dharma-Zen Painting- (Photo credit: hira3)

Again, I was trying to write – trying to  get something of a productive nature done when The Philosopher Red burst through my door, interrupting my solitude once again.  The red-hooded one had two Nicaraguans with him, men he met during his harrowing escape from the Killer Figs of Costa Rica.  He told me they had been working on a coffee plantation he passed through as he made his desperate escape   from the valley of death.  He has now committed himself to becoming a full-time revolutionary, which I find alarming.  The Nicaraguan workers are his first two followers.  They are both armed with machetes, which they liberated from their employer, soon after The Philosopher Red told them he was liberating them from the bondage of labor.  Now there are three unemployed men sitting around the small living room of my condo.  The Nicaraguans have discovered my refrigerator, and they are busy liberating my food supply.  I feel like a soon-to-be ruined renter.

The Philosopher Red is trying to rough out a philosophically sound campaign of terror to inflict on Tamarindo, then Costa Rica, then the world.  The Nicaraguans are busy eating what little they found in my refrigerator.  One of them spits out a chunk of coconut meat, complaining in rapid-fire Spanish and jabbing a dirty, calloused finger at one of his teeth.  Dental problems.  My red-hooded friend is ready for such opportunities.

The Philosopher Red has always taken an undue pleasure in practicing dentistry, and I know well enough to guard against the slightest indication of tooth pain.  His forceps are always at hand, beneath his red philosopher‘s robe.  This fascination with pulling teeth came about back when The Philosopher Red was married.  His version of the tragedy he called a marriage is that his wife was refusing him the consolations of marriage, complaining of a aching tooth.  He presumed she was pretending, produced a set of gritty pliers, and forcibly extracted a sound tooth, then let her know that similar procedures would be forthcoming if she continued with silly ideas of celibacy.  His first experience with amateur dentistry grew into a lifelong fascination, one his wife chose not to share.  She took him for everything except his two red philosopher’s robes and a growing array of dental tools.  He blames her for his affection for drink, among other intoxicants.

The Philosopher Red has always thought intoxication a reasonable vacation from reality.  His pair of Nicaraguan revolutionaries seem to share this opinion.  They have discovered the beers I hid in the crisper of my refrigerator, and now one of the Nicaraguans is babbling like a chicken on methamphetamine.  Something about pay scale, or prostitutes…I can’t get a handle on his gibberish.  I have to try and interpret this for the newly minted revolutionary commander who occupies my couch, and it’s not working.

The Plumber

I had been waiting all morning for a plumber who said he’d be here last Monday.  He arrived with his teenaged daughter.  He introduced her as Maria, and told me she was too hotheaded to leave at home alone.  I introduced him to my ever-leaking sink, and offered Maria a glass of water with fresh lemon and lime pieces.  She refused the water, and helped herself to two of my bottles of Imperial beer, popped the cap off one using a disposable lighter, and emptied most of the bottle with one guzzle.  The plumber rolled his eyes, shrugged his shoulders, and disappeared under the sink with a wrench and some tape.

The four revolutionaries  busied themselves trying to come up with a catchy name for their organization – one that would strike fear into the hearts of the leisure classes and inspire workers to join in with activities that would risk their lives and probably their credit ratings.  The philosopher Red suggested the Revolutionary Army of Tamarindo Solidarity.  I suggested he consider the acronym R.A.T.S..  He grunted his reluctant agreement and asked for any suggestions.  Maria stood up and announced that the creatures of this earth were the truly deserving of any of the small band’s efforts at liberation.

She suggested the moniker Feminists United to Suppress the Slaughter.

“F-U-S-S?  That’s sounds fearsome to me,” I said, looking to my red-hooded revolutionary friend for his reaction.

The Philosopher Red objected, but Maria was not to be denied.  She told him that she had started a similarly named movement in Santa Cruz, but she had reluctantly given it up when it was co-opted by two retired male ex-patriots, a retired funeral director  from the United States and a 23 year-old internet financial guru from Calgary, Canada.

“Those two did nothing but complain that there were no organizations for frustrated white men to join, and they felt left out,” she explained.  “The whole thing fell apart when they ignored my planning sessions for eco-terrorist acts to discuss tax shelters and investment strategies.  The funeral guy even suggested killing off the last of the Pandas so we could use it as an example of how badly the world was treating endangered species.  Bastard gringo users, they both need live Iguanas shoved up their -”

I decided that retreat was my only sane option, and moved my laptop out to the table on my balcony to finish the piece I was working on.  When I returned an hour later The Philosopher Red and one of the Nicaraguans were passed out, my plumber had abandoned my leaking sink, and Maria was calling for a vote on the first of her suggestions.  She and her father voted for F.U.S.S., and the last Nicaraguan standing didn’t know enough English to understand what was going on, or protest if he did.  The motion was passed.  Maria’s Revolution was re-born in Tamarindo.  The Philosopher Red snored through the major defeat his attempt at revolution had suffered.  He would eventually sober up, and it wasn’t going to be pretty.  I began considering the advantages of abandoning my condo to the competing factions.

I settled for taking the plumber’s wrench and tape and worming my way under the sink to try and fix something in this broken world.  An accomplishment would soothe my tortured soul…even if it was stopping that infernal leak.

The Philosopher Red Claims “Gravity is Boring”

The Philosopher Red is on my computer again.  He’s learning to surf.

達磨 Dharma-Zen Painting-

達磨 Dharma-Zen Painting- (Photo credit: hira3)

I don’t think much of this development, but he has no concerns for what I think.  I have to come up with a subtly tactical method of getting him off, and me on, my laptop so I can let the world know what he’s up too.  It is not easy.  I can feel my Pooh-osity levels lowering.  Again, I am forced into an unfamiliar role, the voice of reason. The Philosopher Red is scrolling through the top “news” feeds of the past week, and he doesn’t seem pleased.  (This is not a picture of him – he never allows himself to be photographed.  But, it is a fairly good likeness, so I use it to give readers an idea of what I’m dealing with here).

The Philosopher Red:  Look at this.  “Michelle Obama‘s eye rolls at John Boehner ignites internet firestorm.”  Are they serious?  Is this news?  Do any of these philosophical Neanderthals know what a firestorm is?  I’ve heard John Boehner speak and my eyes are still rolling…my vision has gone blurry because of it.  But no one seem to care about their intellectual health any more, or the health of philosophers. (The Philosopher Red is from Cleveland – a city he decries as an abomination to Cartesian rationalism – in the state of Ohio – which he refers to as a state of non-being).

The Voice of Reason:  What does that have to do with you?  Besides, the opinions of philosophers have gone so far out of style in this –

PR:  And, look at this.  “Ohio woman sues over alleged 9/11 strip search”… “Burger King drops firm which supplied horse meat” … “Shaggy not dead” … “Country singer pregnant with identical twins”.  What nonsensical pap.  I enjoy strip searches.  Horse meat is probably the healthiest thing on the menu at Burger King.  Who is Shaggy?  And, unless that country western singer is a man, how can that be news?  If I was the type to make New Year resolutions some of these might be on my list.

I sense an opening and nudge Red over so I can get at the computer keyboard.  I key in a word search for the most popular New Year resolutions.

TVR:  There…something for you to contemplate.  The most popular resolution – lose weight.  You could –

PR:  Forget it.  I’d never find a smaller red philosopher’s robe in this sand pit you call a town.

TVR:  Number two on the list – stop smoking.  That would improve your –

PR: Not a chance.  (He shakes a cigarette out of my almost empty pack and lights up…I buy them, he smokes them).

TVR:  Alright, number three – stick to a budget…number four – save more money…number five – get a better job…number six –

PR:  No, why bother, and, are you kidding?  What would I do for a living?

TVR:  Being a philosopher is no occupation for a grown man, and you live off me and my –

PR:  This is a world of corrupt values and no true appreciation for stimulating thought.  This is a world that needs radical change.

TVR:  Become more organized…exercise more…eat better…become a better person…help my community.  That’s the top ten.

PR:  I could start a movement…a revolution.  That’s what you people do down here, isn’t it?  I could organize workers and arm them with guns and the teachings of Kant.  I’d get more exercise if I had to take to the hills – and I’d have to live off insects, bugs, grubs and tree leaves.

TVR:  You already live off insects, and I think you’re a bit bitter to inspire any community to –

PR:  Action !  That’s what this community needs, and if I don’t become a better person no one will notice –  I’ll keep them busy printing pamphlets that will never be read, and erecting barricades that will be blown apart by helicopter gunships.  They’ll have to reprint…they’ll have to rebuild…they’ll have meaningful lives – I’ll have a meaningful life.  Occupy Costa Rica !

The Philosopher Red moves to the window and spreads his arms wide, looking too much like the statue of Christ the Redeemer above Rio de Janeiro.  He closes his eyes and starts to hum until his whole body is vibrating.  Then he turns on me suddenly.

PR:  The revolution will not be televised.  I’ll write the world out of its cruel, inhumane state.  I’ll call myself…Commander Read !

Personally, I like the idea.  I’m getting tired of writing his name as The Philosopher Red…too long…too awkward to key in, and it would force him to move out of my condo and off my couch.  But, some people insist on reality, and occasionally I’m one of them.

TVR:  Commander Read, there is no chance of a revolution happening in a country like Costa Rica, or any country that has credit and debit cards – countries that allow their citizens to live beyond their means.  Taking to the hills would ruin their credit rating.

PR:  My movement will help the common man rise above this tawdry state of affairs.  The motto of my revolution will be “Gravity is Boring.”

I bury my face in my hands.  I don’t see any possibility of The Philosopher Red – or Commander Read – ever leaving my condo, my couch, my life, or not monopolizing my computer.  Time to sign of sign off so another newly energized revolutionary can check the availability of weapons and ammunition on the internet.


The Philosopher Red Questions My Motives While He Makes Cookies

The philosopher Red is making Mind Expanding Cricket Cookies and questioning my blogging motives.

達磨 Dharma-Zen Painting-

達磨 Dharma-Zen Painting- (Photo credit: hira3)

“Why do you surf on that internet when you could be out on the beach surfing?”

“I blog to put pieces of my writing out into the world to get some reaction, to see if where I’m going with my novel is the right direction or not, ” I tell him.  He scoffs at me and returns to the smoking stove in my newly trashed kitchen.

“You should put something important on your blog, something these people will care about,” he says over his shoulder, “like my recipe for Cricket Cookies.”I have followers who would object to your cookies,” I tell him as I open a new page, “people who are vegitarians…people who would be offended by your eating every bug you find in my apartment.”

“These cookies are going to be a masterpiece of Cartesian rationalism,” he replies, folding in a bowl of chopped, pungent greens.  “But you can’t list the secret ingredient.”Costa Rican Wow weed…and a lot of it.  Where the hell would he get that?  He never leaves the apartment.”Is this going to leave me on the floor, like your deep-fried caterpillar kabobs?”

“Those kabobs were to die for,” the Philosopher Red says, “for the gastrotorial delight of the consumer, and those caterpillars.”

“That doesn’t even sound like a real word…gastrotorial?”

“The criterion of truth is not sensory, but intellectual and deductive,” he says, pushing a large, warm cookie in my mouth.  “Put that in your stupid blog, and don’t use my name.”I half chew the cookie, then swallow in self defense.”Have another…you seem to have liked that one,” says the Philosopher Red, pushing me away from my computer.  “What have we got here?”  He starts clicking away at the keys, stopping only to shove another cookie in my mouth as I try to take a drink from my water bottle. He goes back to tapping away at the computer keys.

– 2 cups of old-fashioned oats

– 1 cup of flour

– 1/2 teaspoon salt

– 1/2 cup raw cane sugar

– 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

– 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

– 1 brown egg

– 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

– 4 cups live crickets

– Secret ingredient to taste

Oven:  pre-heat to 170 Celsius
Dough: dump your lumps on greased cookie sheet, or what is available in friends poorly stocked kitchen
Bake: until golden brown, or earlier if cookies start smoking
“You’re not going to post that trash on my site,” I mumble, feeling a bit bleary, a bit worse for wear and tear.  “My site is literary and serious…you’ll lower the entire tone…of everything I’ve…posted so far…you can’t -“
“Goodnight, sweet dunce – I mean, prince,” I hear the Philosopher Red say in a buttery, soft dream.  “Posted,” he says as he pushes a button on my computer, then lowers the screen.

The Philosopher Red is out of Control

English: Walt_Whitman_1940_Issue-5c.jpg Catego...

I am the man, I suffered, I was there.

                                                                                                                                  – Walt Whitman

達磨 Dharma-Zen Painting-

達磨 Dharma-Zen Painting- (Photo credit: hira3)

The Philosopher Red is in a foul mood – again.  He is nursing a dislocated finger, two contusions on his left cheek, and has a large chunk of his tangled red hair that he bought back from a Tico who ripped it from his head.  The Philosopher Red is Irish, or at least he uses that to excuse his habitually belligerent statements and actions.

We walked into a beach front bar last night – or, more accurately, I followed him in.  He tried to wedge himself up to the bar crowded with gringos loudly cheering and jeering at a televised American football game.  He resorted to that old Irish cliché, “Is this a private fight, or can anyone join in?”  The Americans were not amused and closed ranks, forcing the Philosopher Red farther away from his goal of alcoholic reinforcement.

“There’s more than one way to skin a cat,” the Philosopher Red muttered.

“If there is, I don’t want to hear about it,” I replied.

The Philosopher Red located a tipped over bar stool, climbed atop, then leaped over the cheering, jeering Americans and landed on the bar.  He grabbed the remote control out of the Tico bartender’s hand and changed the channel to a Spanish language cooking show.  The Americans retaliated in force, punching and kicking him repeatedly before carrying him out the bar as he screamed about his rights being violated.  He was violently pushing the buttons of the remote control while pointing it at the Americans who were pummeling him, then the Tico bartender grabbed him by the hair before reposessing the device.

“Don’t you ever learn?” I asked the Philosopher Red as I helped him to his feet.

“I already knew that most people are right-handed,” he said, gingerly touching the pulpy red mass on the left side of his face.

“No,” I said, pealing off the 10,000 colones in damp bills it was going to take to buy back his lock of hair.  “Didn’t you learn anything to further your philosophical understanding or our world?”

“Why yes, my one and only follower,” he replied, using his torn shirt to wipe the blood away from his cheek.  “I learned that universal remotes have nothing to do with controlling my universe…not even remotely.”

The Philosopher Red has begun talking of his stay in Tamarindo as a permanent move, and not a vacation.  I’m concerned.

There’s not much else of interest to report from here at the edge of the western word.  But, with the Philosopher Red in town, I’m sure times will be livening up some.  Later…