Wednesday, March 15, 2006

A bad day for Caesar

March 15, the "Ides of March." A bad day to be an emperor, at least it was in 44 BC Rome.

In general, Julius Caesar was a masterful military and political leader, renowned for his conquest of Gaul (modern-day France, Belgium, Switzerland) . The trouble began when he was proclaimed "Dictator Perpetuus," or Dictator for Life. This sat particularly poorly with the Roman tradition of The Republic, which split political power among numerous Senators and, to a lesser extent, influential wealthy land owners called equites. So, rather predictably, they murdered him on the floor of the Senate. He was stabbed between 26 and 35 times, depending on which account you read. One of the conspirators was Marcus Brutus, Caesar's distant cousin and a testamentary heir. Shakespeare delighted to dramatize this historic event in his play, Julius Caesar, and breathed the famous words, "Et tu Brute?" into the emperor to make them his last. Shakespeare also gave new vernacular meaning to the ides of March (ides = middle), having Caesar visit a soothsayer before his imminent death who warned him, "Beware the Ides of March!" Obviously Caesar didn't follow his advice, whether it really happened or not.

When Caesar was assassinated on March 15 in 44 BC, Gaius Octavius was studying in Apollonia, in what is now Albania. When Caesar's will was read it revealed that, having no legitimate children, he had adopted his great-nephew as his son and main heir. By virtue of his adoption Octavius assumed the name Gaius Julius Caesar, and after a series of events too melodramatic even for daytime soaps, he defeated all of his rivals by 32 BC. He established a grand empire extending from Brittania to the Persian Gulf, and successfully began an age of relative peace, known as "Pax Romana," in an otherwise bellicose empire typified by warfare both civil and imperialistic.

But following the trend of everything else in the Universe since time began, the burgeoning Roman Empire eventually buckled under its own weight and collapsed back into chaos and unending civil wars.

Politics sure was more interesting in those days.

The lesson learned? "Friends may come and go, but enemies accumulate." - Thomas Young

Ask Andrew W.K. ...

I've been a fan of Andrew W.K. for a few years now, and one thing that's inspired me about him is his ability to boil life down to a few guitar solos, keyboard arpeggios, and party lyrics. So, I thought I'd put his divine insight to the test to answer some common, and not-so-common, questions that have plagued mankind since the dawn of human history.

Q: "Why is the sky blue?"
Awk: "Cos we're gonna have a FUN NIGHT! FUN NIGHT! FUN NIGHT! FUN NIGHT! Gonna get off! Gonna get off! Gonna get off! Gonna get off!"[From "Fun Night" off of I Get Wet]

Q: "Where is the Adriatic Sea?"
Awk: "I can't explain it anymore / I'm not too young to know for sure. You get me, I get you, we get us."
[From "Really in Love" off of The Wolf]

Q: "Can you actually recharge non-rechargeable batteries or what?"Awk: "You're not my mom and dad / And even they watch their backs; Cause they know what I hate; Any rules that I can't break."[From "Your Rules" off of The Wolf]

Q: "How can I get from 19th & Q to the Target?"
Awk: "You won't know and we won't fucking go / We just keep on living. We always get what we want; We still get what we want 'cos we're never gonna stop (no we won't stop)."[From "Fun Night" off of I Get Wet]Q: "My sister Tesla is dating a guy who is 15 years older than him. Is this weird or should I stop being so protective?"Awk: "The girl's too young / She don't need any better. It's all coming back / I can feel it. She is beautiful / She is beautiful / She is beautiful / She is beautiful. The girl is beautiful."[From "She is Beautiful" off of I Get Wet]

Q: "Is pepperoni or sausage better on pizza?"Awk: "This is why we are alive / We all live like we are going to die. We are here, We are high / And this is why we love to live our lives"[From "Victory Strikes Again" off of The Wolf]

Q: "Would the benefits of narcotics legalization outweigh the detriment?"Awk: "I Get Wet when the party is dying. I Get Wet without even trying. I Get Wet I Get Wet I Get Wet I Get Wet I Get Wet I Get Wet I Get Wet I Get Wet / I Get Wet whenever you trying / I Get Wet when I know that you're dying / I Get Wet I Get Wet I Get Wet I Get Wet I Get Wet I Get Wet I Get Wet I Get Wet."[From "I Get Wet" off of I Get Wet]

Q: "What's your problem, jackass?"
Awk: "We do what we like and we like what we do. So let's get a party going (let's get a party going) / Now it's time to party and we'll party hard (party hard) / Let's get a party going (let's get a party going) / When it's time to party we will always party hard / Party hard (party hard, party hard, party hard party hard, party hard, party hard party hard, party hard, party hard...) ."[From "Party Hard" off of I Get Wet]
A Litigious Proposal

So I've been sick the past two days, and being sick, like any red-blooded American, I've been taking advantage of this rare opportunity to take over-the-counter pick-me-ups and slooow-me-downs to "relieve my symptoms." Sudafed LiquiCaps (non-drowsy), NyQuil, Robitussin lozenges, Halls Vapor Relief, Zinc lozenges, Tylenol, Advil, Trademark after motherfucking TM ... I am juiced. Needless to say my trip to Safeway a block away earlier today nearly ended in content resignation.

Anyway, this strangely altered state of mind has afforded me a comfortable glimpse into my meandering psyche, or "train of thought" or "stream of consciousness" depending on whether you are a rivertboat driver or train conductor, I guess.My mind's usually pretty random anyway, often imagining something like the effects of a terrorist Jello bomb (cherry-flavored) in downtown DC during an August evening rush hour, or likewise.

Well this evening in communique via cellular handset with a friend I used to work with who became an intellectual property attorney (read: patent lawyer), "we" were coming up with ways to make money quickly and without any effort; you know, the welfare lottery approach. I used
"we" in quotes because as a patent lawyer he need not worry about the usual trappings of modern capitalism and economics.

Speedily forgetting our conversation, I began to think of fun ways to annoy people, lots of people. Eventually I landed on concocting thousands of court-issued subpoenas to individuals I'd never met, being good for a laugh, because folk tend to react badly to unexpected litigious intervention.

Then it hit me. Chain letters. Rather than spending hours of my precious time typing up thousands of fake subpoenas, I would mail just 10 originals stating that "if you serve this court-ordered subpoena on 7 of your friends, the charges against you will be dropped." And to help things along, in each envelope I'll enclose handy postage-paid envelopes with letterhead saying "YOU GOT SERVED!"

Problem solved, AND I've now created a self-perpetuating process of limitless proportions! Not only have I pointlessly brought back the rightfully dead tradition of chain letters, but I've also fiendishly woven a sick modern satire into it! And the true beauty, from my personal perspective, is that I'm untraceable! Genius.